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Will Blockchain Really Solve the Interoperability Problem?

Earlier this year, KLAS released the Interoperability 2016 report. After conducting more than 500 interviews at 400+ unique organizations, we discovered that only 6% of respondents were able to achieve meaningful data exchange that also impacted patient care.

 

Security concerns continue as one of the biggest roadblocks between healthcare vendor solutions and true interoperability. If achieving interoperability meant nothing more than making patient data accessible everywhere without regard to privacy or security, the industry would have already achieved success.

Simply making patient data available doesn’t go far enough; we need to make sure that data transfers happen securely. Considering that personal healthcare data sells for 10 times more than credit card information among identity thieves, and that data breaches can permanently damage the image of a healthcare facility - security is paramount.

Enter Blockchain:

Blockchain technology originated as a method of secure transmission of digital currencies, like bitcoin. Blockchain works by spreading out the ledger (for financial transactions) across an entire network of computers.

This network constantly checks the ledger against the rest of the network to verify authenticity; making it difficult for fraud and hacking to occur.

The blockchain system also combines multiple transactions into “blocks.” Each of these is linked (like a chain) to the previous block, making the insertion of bad data almost impossible.

(For a detailed video on how blockchain works, click here)

The idea of adapting blockchain technology to fit healthcare has generated intense interest.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently announced the winners of a contest that “solicited white papers on the topic of Blockchain technology and the potential use in health IT to address privacy, security, and scalability challenges of managing electronic health records and resources.”

Winners included HIT vendors and healthcare providers, all looking forward in terms of how this new technology can make the world of healthcare better.

Blockchain isn’t a silver bullet.

Rather, blockchain technology represents a possible solution for one of the many concerns in the complex HIT landscape.

However with new technologies constantly being developed or adapted for use in the healthcare space, the prospects for a secure and interoperable future seem very bright.