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Blockchain and Healthcare (and why this is a game changer)

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As Casey was plucking away at the pile of documents, she sighed as she took a break. 

This is so stupid!” she said out loud.  “And to think we’re paying a fine on every single one of these!

John overheard the statement and was confused.

What do you mean?

Our state has this stupid line that we have to pay a fine because we still use paper medical records and won’t update to electronic ones.

At hearing this, John’s curiosity was instantly triggered.  John wondered why on earth would a medical clinic still be using paper records.  After all, it’s 2019.  There has to be a more efficient way to send information to both clients and insurance companies.

Conversation about Blockchain in Healthcare - IIB Council Blockchain Blog

Why aren’t you guys using some type of digital system?  I mean if the state is fining you for doing this, why don’t you just change to a modern system?

Because we can’t afford it!” Casey exclaimed.

It was at this moment; John knew he was sitting on a preverbal goldmine.  John had been working in the technology sector for years and was always looking for new use cases for blockchain.  As soon as he heard Casey say that it was too expensive to switch from paper to digital record keeping, he knew blockchain could help.

Casey, are you sure about that?” John asked.

Constantly going through all of these file cabinets full of paperwork has got to be time-consuming.  And all of these filing cabinets are taking up serious space in your clinic.

Casey sighed, “It’s the software, that’s the problem.  People’s medical records are considered protected information.  The state then mandates that personal files be safely stored and transferred.  But the problem is that there is only 1 vendor in our state and it’s expensive as hell to use their digital service.

Can’t you qualify for a discount or something?”  asked John.

No, because we’re a small clinic.  We don’t do enough volume to get any kind of discount or rebate.  So, we’re stuck paying full price for their system.  Plus, it’s buggy and crashes sometimes, and hasn’t been updated since 2006.

John’s eyes grew larger and he quickly began to salivate. 

And then the final nail in the coffin is the fines.  The state fines us for NOT using a modern electronic system.  But the monthly fine we pay is LESS than the actual monthly subscription for the records service.  So, we’re just better off paying the fine every month…… Wait, where are you going?

Baby I’m off to save the medical world from outdated centralized systems!!!

Casey rolled her eyes as John exited the medical clinic with resolve in his eyes.

The above story is, unfortunately, an accurate visual of the current medical records system in the United States.  Outdated centralized record-keeping systems keep medical costs high, turn-around times slow, and most painful of all, does NOT allow customers to control their own data. 

This means that patients can’t take their information and “shop around” for medical treatments, which in turn stifles competition among providers, and keeps patients trapped with their current providers.  And worst of all, these outdated centralized companies petition to fine medical clinics that pay for their services.  So, if there was ever an industry that desperately needed a blockchain revolution, healthcare is definitely it.

But don’t expect the current regime to go quietly without a fight. According to the Brookings Institute, the medical records is a multi-billion dollar a year industry.  The industry has become increasingly under scrutiny for rising costs, not allowing innovation in their space, and lobbying politicians to keep the status quo.  It is due to these continued actions that have led to a new push for change in the health care industry. 

It all starts with HIPPA

HIPAA is an acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA includes the Privacy and Security regulations which govern the protection and security of protected health information.  These regulations are meant to protect individuals by having a uniform set of codes for institutions handling their medical data. 

Before we even get into what HIPPA does, you can see from its original date that it is woefully outdated.  Any law written prior to the internet’s mainstream adaption is outdated, and especially anything is written prior to the invention of blockchain protocols.

HIPPA basically set the standard for data collection procedures.  This involves everything from requiring filing cabinets sizes, to patient confidentiality, and even electronic data usage.  As we saw with Casey and John’s story, HIPPA can also issue both regulations and fines for non-compliance.

While HIPPA compliance is never an issue for large scale medical facilities, it becomes a major burden for small outpatient clinics.  Gynecologists, podiatrists, and dentists are all examples of small clinics who share an unfair burden of data policies.

These small offices do have large numbers of patients, and therefore, they lack the ability to negotiate with companies who provide digital record services.  As a result, thousands of smaller clinics are paying thousands of dollars in fines every month! Many of these smaller clinics have smaller profit margins, so the costs of those fines are ultimately passed down to the consumer.   

Blockchain to the Rescue

At the very heart of blockchain technology is a belief that people should control their own assets.  Whether it is their money, their entertainment, or even their personal medical data, people should get full control of their data.  That is exactly why the entire medical records industry is shaking in their boots.  Because for the first time since 1996, they are faced with real competition in the market. Blockchain’s decentralized model advocates for a much more transparent data-sharing system than the current one being practiced.

In our example above, John saw first hand the situation with Casey’s clinic, but also the solution.  John realized that medical disruption is coming.  And he’s not alone.  Recently Jeff Bozos, Warren Buffet, and Jamie Dimon, all met to discuss how to drastically reduce healthcare costs in the United States.  And I guarantee you Blockchain was definitely part of that conversation.  

How to get started

Based on the current market, one thing is clear: Millionaires are coming.  Millionaires who took advantage of this time in history.  Profit will be rewarded to those who work to replace these outdated systems in favor of more customer-focused ones.  But where to start? 

Of all the current Blockchain developments, Ethereum seems to be the one best designed to address these specific needs.  This is because Ethereum runs on its own decentralized network.  This network allows for anyone to create a decentralized app known as a DAPP.  So, the barrier to entry is virtually nonexistent.  Literally, anyone who knows how to code can start being their own solution to medical record keeping, and that’s precisely what John left to do at the beginning of our article.   

Conclusion

Blockchain in Healthcare Illustration - IIB Council Blockchain Blog

Scholars and educated people often think that change in society comes from the top down. When in reality, it comes from the bottom up.  The biggest developments in blockchain won’t come from college classrooms or corporations.  It will come from the frustrated Casey’s of the world and her friend John.  The very individuals who are on the heartbeat of what the average consumer is experiencing. So, if you were ever looking for an angle to get rich from blockchain, medical records are the way to go.  But tread quickly, as this problem WILL be solved and solved very quickly.  And once it is, people will soon look back and ask themselves “why did it take so long?”

So, what are YOU waiting for?

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