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US Healthcare Alliance Explores Blockchain for Data Integrity

US Healthcare Alliance Explore Blockchain for Data Integrity

An alliance made up of seven major US healthcare companies will be exploring the potential of blockchain in improving data quality, reports Modern Healthcare.

The alliance is made up 22 million members across the 7-member organization. Humana, Multiplan, UnitedHealth Group’s Optum, UnitedHealthcare and Quest Diagnostic, recently joined Ascension, regarded as the largest not-for-profit health system in the US, and CVS Health-Aetna. The primary objective is to research ways in which blockchain can be used to improve data quality and lower administrative cost.

The alliance will leverage blockchain’s distributed consensus to establish credibility and the immutability to secure the integrity of the data being generated and stored. The ultimate objective is to “make provider directory more accurate”, reports the news portal.

Another benefit would be that changes are made to all copies of the ledger in real time, stated Quest Diagnostics chief information officer Lidia Fonseca; this characteristic of blockchain will cut down operational costs.

According to the data reviewed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the accuracy of 108 providers, more than half of provider directory locations listed in 64 Medicare Advantage organizations’ online directory were reported to have had at least one type of error. The summary of the errors from the report included the provider not being at the location listed, incorrect phone numbers or the provider was not accepting new patients when the directory indicated they were.

The face value of such problems is an expenditure of about USD 2.1 billion to ensure information is accurate; a heavy burden on insurers who usually maintain their own directories of providers along with others. The consequence of failing to maintain the database could attract sanctions from the (CMS).

Ascension’s chief information officer, Gerry Lewis said the blockchain could ease the burden of providers and also save cost. While he remains optimistic of the blockchain approach, he, however, recognizes that it’s no easy feat noting that they are at “step one of probably a 300-step journey”.

The blockchain could indeed transform healthcare, from secure storage of patient data to guided research built upon reliable and untampered data sources. The applications seem to be broad and there are numerous decentralized blockchain startups exploring the trend.


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Mount Sinai Launches Research Center to Explore Blockchain Use Cases in Medicine

Mount Sinai Hospital’s New York-based medical school has established a blockchain research center to explore its medical use case applications.

The Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research is set to be part of the hospital’s Institute for Next Generation Healthcare. The institute currently hosts 50 specialist researchers studying progressive healthcare solutions, including the application of robotics, artificial intelligence, wearable medical devices, sensors, and genomic sequencing.

Blockchain use-cases to be researched include drug development, drug tracking and authentication, improved research reproducibility, and use in clinical trials. Predictive health applications are also on the agenda, with studies planned to investigate the possibilities of utilizing electronic health record information gained from wearable devices to prevent future health problems.

Director of health data and design innovation, Noah Zimmerman, was careful to point out the institute would add a degree of academic rigor to the blockchain sector. He acknowledged there could be no singular technological solution to ”save healthcare” and he was careful to avoid becoming merely part of the ”blockchain hype cycle“. He believes the institute has a balanced, academic approach to its research.

Executive vice president of precision health at Mount Sinai, Joel Dudley, has been positioned to run the research center. His previous experience in the sector includes time as a senior data scientist at Pivotal Software where the use of artificial intelligence in biology is studied, as well as working to design predictive healthcare models.

Teaming up

The institute’s plans began by bringing together 144 companies involved in blockchain healthcare projects and creating a database of shared information. The combined total of funds raised through initial coin offerings by the companies involved is USD 670 million.

CoverUs is included in the group, offering its project which allows patients to gain financially from their own health data via a blockchain-backed exchange, as is Embleema, a venture which brings together patient health data and electronic medical records in a secure format.


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Tim Draper Envisions Blockchain Solution to Government Efficiency Woes

Bitcoin bull and renowned financial investor Tim Draper laid out his vision for a blockchain-based solution to government efficiency problems at the GovTech Pioneers conference in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday.

As reported by Cointelegraph, Draper’s opening speech presented a plan for future political governance, consisting of a shift to the use of blockchain technology that would employ smart contracts and artificial intelligence (AI). He predicted that this combination would be capable of providing ”the perfect bureaucracy”.

Blockchain, AI, and healthcare

“The services provided by the insurance, healthcare, and real estate industries are very bad and require a lot of money. The government that burned a lot of money for the worst service first felt this,” Draper said, outlining the reasoning behind the need for a change in governmental operations.

He emphasized his points with a specific focus on healthcare, outlining the future as decentralized, with patient’s data accessible to them on blockchain. An automated system would utilize AI technology to consistently review the data, sending warnings and advice to individuals at risk.

Draper is not the only person who sees blockchain as a superior solution; several blockchain-backed healthcare projects do already exist, praised for the immutable patient records they can provide.

Hashed Health is a project that works to solve healthcare business problems, while IRIS is a start-up company looking to provide people with a decentralized healthcare record.

Of course, setting up a blockchain project in a country to cover every citizen would be a much larger feat than any of these companies have achieved so far. The cases do prove, however, Draper’s vision is not as unattainable as some may initially think.

Blockchain and voting

As recently reported by Forbes, voting is another area of government inefficiency that could benefit from a blockchain alternative. As demonstrated in previous US elections, the current voting procedure leaves much to be desired.

To illustrate this point, in one case in the state of Virginia, an apparent electoral tie led to the decision of a candidate being chosen by drawing a name from a hat. Another instance is the inefficiency of voting in person, leading to low voter turnout. In the 2016 US presidential election, an estimated 55.7% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

Blockchain voting would mean it would be virtually impossible to hack and could potentially be done at home while verifying the identity of the voter, reducing electoral fraud.

Draper did not illustrate the issue of blockchain voting in his GovTech Pioneers talk, but by highlighting the point of blockchain efficiency in regards to government operations, his speech was invaluable in the technology being recognized further in the field.


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