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Remove the Middleman with the (Block) Chain Gang

Blockchain Enables Transparency & Security

I attended JumpStart Foundry’s Health:Further Conference recently, and it was a goodie!

Speakers came from all over the country to talk about the state of healthcare and technology, and I heard a common thread through many talks: Healthcare is in a state of necessary evolution. The connectedness offered by both the Internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) is pushing healthcare to innovate at a rapid pace. Think about how many apps and devices are now available for monitoring your health, such as smart watches or step trackers.These devices and technologies are empowering us to understand and monitor our own health in ways we have never been able to do before. They also offer the promise that it should be easy to become better informed consumers of healthcare. Better yet, healthcare providers are beginning to realize that they have to cater to the end consumer, because we are the ones making the choices. Consumers are demanding more transparency around price, quality, and their own health information.

These days there is an expectation to be in control of all the information and our customer experiences, so it’s no surprise that consumers are now demanding the same kind of informed experience when it comes to healthcare. Here are a few examples of healthcare companies that are bringing a new experience to healthcare consumers:

  • HealthCare BlueBook (https://healthcarebluebook.com/) – Did you know that a surgical procedure by the same physician can cost you drastically different amounts of money depending on the facility you get the procedure done?
  • Spruce – Download the app and experience telemedicine. You can visit a dermatologist by sharing photos and answering a few questions. You’ll get a diagnosis and treatment plan plus prescriptions from a board-certified dermatologist. With your approval, they’ll send a report of your record to your primary care physician. All of this for $40.
  • In Quicker (https://inquicker.com/) – Make appointments. I just made a doctors visit. I went on the website, chose InQuicker, and it provided me times that week that were available for me to schedule. I provided some basic information in a secure online form. It sent me a calendar request to add to my calendaring application. No waiting on hold or going back and forth with a member of the staff to try to find an appointment months from now.

Even so, we are still at the beginning in many ways, because the healthcare industry overall has been slow to adopt internet-related technology. A big part of the challenge facing healthcare? Protecting the security and privacy of your health and related financial data.

However, Health:Further reminded me about a particular technology that we all need to get our heads around—because it can make a positive impact on this very problem. Blockchain provides a simple, secure way to process transactions and store information online, and it very well may revolutionize how we store and use healthcare information.

Using blockchain drastically reduces the risk of hacking, fraud, and theft when you store or transmit data about personal health and financial details.

Here’s how blockchain works.

  1. Blockchain operates on an authorized network of computers.
  2. As transactions happen, they are assigned unique digital codes, and then quickly bundled together into batches or blocks.
  3. These blocks are verified and replicated throughout the network in “chains.”
  4. Each change to a block creates an entry in a ledger. The ledger is distributed to those in the authorized network. Everyone in the authorized network is notified of any change and each change is documented. Anytime a transaction is moved or altered, everyone knows to check the ledger for updates.
  5. Because everyone in the authorized “gang” of computers gets the updates, all parties are up to date on who has what information, what the transaction consisted of and where the hand off occurred.

Using blockchain removes the need for a middleman to verify transactions—reducing the risk of fraud at that point, and speeding up the whole process at the same time.

I don’t know about you, but I am looking very forward to more time and better holistic decisions resulting from a streamlined view of my medical records and information at the tips of all my approved healthcare providers.

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image provided by WSJ.com