Accelerating the regulatory processes of health insurance companies or the transfer of EHRs is a challenge that will take ten to fifteen years to come, according to Michael Gucci, an emergency physician and founder of Bitcoin Fortress Ventures.
„We have to think in small steps, hospitals will never implement huge changes.“
Instead of focusing on EHR and insurance, Gucci believes that blockchain entrepreneurs should first focus on the medical device market, which has disruptive potential.
Companies like Block Verify from Great Britain are working on the news spy
Even if counterfeit drugs are less of a problem in the United States, the situation is completely different in developing countries. This problem costs the drug industry billions of dollars a year. Worse still, the news spy trade in counterfeit medicines claims thousands of lives, as the American Health and Drug Benefits Report showed in 2014.
The company has carried out several tests to enable medical workers and customers to verify the integrity of the drug via the blockchain using QR codes on pill vials.
Rome was not built in one day
This is consistent with Holt’s idea that the role of blockchain entrepreneurs is to find solutions to simpler problems in the areas of data integrity and data origin.
An example of this is Saavha. This blockchain startup has one task: to confirm the integrity of health plans. With the Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal of 2014 and other still existing problems in this context, this service is particularly interesting as it deals with big problems of poorly managed waiting lists.
According to a proposal by a member of the US Congress, this problem is something that could be solved with blockchain technology.
According to Holt, the VA has much stricter regulations than many hospitals. The data used must be encrypted on a hard disk that is under constant surveillance in a locked room. And yet – the data could be manipulated.
Saavha’s assistant physician and co-founder, Matthew Rose, is convinced that while it is appealing to solve a big problem, it is more practical to solve the small problems within the big one.
One example of this is the history of medicine: according to Rose, one reason for the great progress in this area is that each scientist has only worked on a small part of the problem. In cancer research, for example, some doctors focus on tumor removal practices, others on how to safely separate tumors from the blood supply, and still others on the role of proteins.
Under the hood, Saavha works as follows: A hash of all data relevant to the doctor’s appointment is stored in the blockchain, proving that the data was not changed later.
This use case cleverly avoids a frequently repeated accusation against the blockchain: One often accuses the blockchain of being slow by nature and therefore not being the best solution for large amounts of data.
Since the focus here is on data integrity, EHRs can simply store a short hash on the blockchain and thus prove the validity of information stored elsewhere. This information is often stored in centralized databases.
The best of two worlds
These centralized databases could in turn benefit from somewhat more exotic blockchain applications.
Andrian Gropper, CTO of the non-profit group Patient Privacy Rights, believes that these centralized databases should be scaled down significantly. After all, these databases contain the patient records of up to ten million patients.
„We have thus created an El Dorado for data thieves. Tens of thousands of people in hospital staff have access to this data. And for the user, these systems are completely inscrutable.“
This is a well-known problem in the industry. Only last year, data thieves performed the largest health hack ever in the industry. The data of more than 78 million patients were disclosed. In March, the MedStar Systems clinical information system was hacked and had to be taken offline.
This misery will continue – Healthcare data is almost a hundred times more valuable than stolen credit card data.
„The only hope of securely managing this type of personal information is to put it back in the hands of a decentralized group. The blockchain will play a central role in this.“
This is exactly what motivates Gropper to create a patient-centered health platform.