Health sector still needs time for blockchain

Despite the fact that blockchain hypes do exist in the health sector, some say that pitches and ideas are not much more than fantasies.

Such comments come at a time when Blockchain technology and the Bitcoin secret has been increasingly praised

The Blockchain technology is supposed to be a scam solution for everything from the management of electronic medical records to health insurance and reduce the complexity of these Bitcoin secret systems in such a way that the frustration of all users is minimized.

However, new research shows that the entrepreneurs behind these plans mean well, but ultimately offer no better solutions to the industry’s existing problems.

„It’s simply impossible for the healthcare sector to act in real time – even though people like to say the opposite,“ says Dr. Alyssa Hoverson Schott, a physician who works in Sanford Health. She started a discussion on this topic at the Distributed Health Conference earlier this month.

Hoverson Schott has an average of 39 patients per day and has to record their medical data in a database between visits.

„I notice that I often don’t have the time for the entries,“ says Hoverson Schott.

The database entries are sent to insurance companies, which then prepare an offer for the treatment costs on this basis. The negotiation between the hospital and the insurance company can take ninety days.

But what is the real problem with blockchain approaches? The providers of new technical solutions know nothing about the daily business of health insurance companies.

„The founders of these start-ups often talk about things that are not feasible. I doubt that they know our daily routine and understand the system behind it.“

That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t see any place for the blockchain in the health business. She is very interested in the blockchain, also on a personal level: Her husband is a business analyst at Experian and as such is also interested in the blockchain.

She suggests, however, that start-ups should team up with the established industry instead of working „disruptively“ against it.

Even if the minds within the healthcare industry have their concerns, this use case shows that the blockchain is now more than just a technical solution – it has become a social phenomenon.

Concerns from the health sector

There was also interest in the blockchain from other sides in the healthcare industry: Dr Jonathan Holt was a practicing physician, but is now focusing on his two startups. SeqTech Diagnostics performs genetic testing on food and TranSendX is a blockchain application designed to give patients more control over their patient records.

Holt sees another opportunity to expand his expertise in a new project: Like financial companies, health insurance companies often have financial incentives to keep patients‘ or customers‘ information locked up in their files. This could be the starting point, but many of the current ideas are too radical to be accepted.

Holt is not the only one to believe that companies in the healthcare sector are reluctant to accept new data storage systems. A leak of such data can result in such high fines that healthcare providers can go bankrupt.

During the conference mentioned above, start-up entrepreneurs were therefore met with criticism.

There is another reason why healthcare providers are reluctant to face the blockchain industry: They have pumped a lot of time and money into the existing solution.

Similar to financial companies, which will not simply abandon their previous system, this industry also requires updates rather than complete new beginnings.

In addition, many hospitals are currently switching to the electronic health record (EHR), an American counterpart to the e-file. Within the framework of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the US government suggested that health service providers should „make sensible use“ of the EHR from 2014 onwards.