– Massachusetts General Hospital’s Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Computation is working on a healthcare blockchain project with Korean startup MediBloc for patient data storage and exchange, reported Coindesk.

Lab Director Synho Do told the website that his lab is working with MediBloc “to explore potentials of blockchain technology to provide secure solutions for health information exchange, integrate healthcare AI applications into the day-to-day clinical workflow, and support [a] data sharing and labeling platform for machine learning model development.”

Added MediBloc CEO Allen Wookyun Kho: “Every day, when people go to hospitals, lots of information is created, but it’s difficult to transfer it from one hospital to another.” Blockchain technology can help overcome that difficulty.

A recent study by CB Insights predicted that blockchain could solve some of the healthcare’s most challenging problems, including patient data storage and exchange.

The report looked at short-, medium-, and long-term use cases for healthcare blockchain.

In the short term, healthcare blockchain could help with back-office operations, improve organizations’ ability to track products in the supply chain, and strengthen information storage and verification.

The Synaptic Health Alliance, made up of Humana, MultiPlan, Optum, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealthcare, and now Aetna and Ascension, plans to use blockchain to keep provider directories up to date. 

Synaptic explained that maintaining up-to-date health plan provider directories is a challenging issue facing healthcare organizations.

Federal and state laws require that health plans maintain directories containing information about physicians and other healthcare providers. Industry estimates suggest that $2.1 billion is spent annually across the healthcare system acquiring and maintaining provider data.

The Synaptic pilot project is exploring how blockchain technology can be used to share data with the aim of demonstrating administrative cost savings for health plans and healthcare providers, while improving care provider demographic data quality and consumers’ healthcare experience.

In addition, Hashed Health has launched several healthcare blockchain initiatives, including one involving GHX, Accenture, Martin Ventures, and Change Healthcare. That initiative is using blockchain protocols to verify if a healthcare provider is licensed for its services and location.

In the medium term, CBI Insights predicts that healthcare blockchain will be used to improve claims management, payment, and prior authorization; health information exchange and research data; and research and trial design.

In the long term, healthcare blockchain could be used to manage universal identities, patient health records, and application services.

In a recent Forbes article, Bill Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon and former Senate majority leader, predicted that healthcare blockchain would transform patient care.

“Blockchain is definitely and rapidly moving toward production in real-world healthcare settings. In fact, it’s projected to be a $2 trillion industry … Technology is going to change care as we know it: moving the locus of care into the community, into the home-setting, meeting the patient where they are,” he wrote.

Frist was also a keynote speaker at the recent Distributed: Health conference held in Nashville, where he said that healthcare is “ripe for disruption like no other industry. The reason is, we have very, very, very high cost, which the typical consumer can’t afford, and we have uneven access.”

“When you have high cost and you have uneven access, the macro environment for disruption is huge. And that’s where blockchain is,” he said.

“Without access to current, real data that can be trusted, that is privacy protected, that is distributed … we can’t make any real progress,” Frist added. “Blockchain has the opportunity … to address one of those basic needs of society, which is to make sure that our children have a better life, have better health, than we have.”

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