Why Blockchain Technology is the Next Big Thing in Healthcare
As IT leaders working in an industry that is undergoing a massive transformation, we have an exceptional opportunity. Using disruptive technologies, we can drive real and meaningful change to make healthcare more efficient and deliver better outcomes for patients.
One technology destined to drive such change is blockchain.
The financial services sector has already proven the value in using blockchain technology to transmit funds and log information as a means of lowering the worldwide cost of cross-border payments, security trading and compliance. As a result, the technology is poised to save the global banking industry an astounding $20 billion by 2020, according to estimates by the management consulting firm Accenture.
Now, some savvy healthcare organizations are taking note and using blockchain to address some of the industry’s thorniest problems: coordination of care, quality transparency and administrative inefficiencies.
What makes blockchain so promising for healthcare is that it delegates more authority to physicians and patients without losing control of cost and utilization. With annual healthcare spend that now tops $3 billion about 18 percent of the nation’s GDP the need to replace inefficient processes, data systems, silos and a duplication of services has never been more important.
Arizona Care Network has seen the benefits of this revolutionary technology firsthand. In 2018, our organization partnered with Solve. Care, a worldwide healthcare technology platform, to deploy blockchain as the foundation for smart, decentralized healthcare applications. The result was Care.Wallet, an application allows for true coordination of care administration by replacing duplicative processes with a synchronized model that is efficient and effective. In addition, the Care.Wallet creates a permanent record of online transactions that can be securely stored and selectively shared with targeted users via a network of personal devices.
Phase 1 of the Care. Wallet was deployed to Arizona Care Network primary care practices and providers, giving them a transparent view of their performance data and the ability to compare their success to the larger network. Just five weeks after the launch, the mobile application was in use by 75 percent of eligible practices.
The key to the Care.Wallet’s success is that it was designed specifically for physicians. As they used the prototype and suggested improvements, Arizona Care Network was able to respond with changes to meet their needs. The Care.Wallet’s actionable insights also enabled providers to see clinical care gaps and results for in-network care coordination and patient satisfaction.
The next evolution of the Care.Wallet is already under way. Its focus: patients. Specifically, we are launching a Care.Wallet specifically for patients with Type 2 diabetes.
Through the Diabetes Care Administration Network, patients will be educated and empowered to monitor their condition and enlist help, as needed. That’s critical, given that about 9.4 percent of the population about 30 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Left unmanaged, diabetes can be a gateway to kidney problems, heart disease and other serious conditions that are not only disruptive to the patient but drive higher healthcare costs.
In the future, the Care.Wallet aims to give patients a simpler way to find network doctors, understand their insurance benefits and the costs before services are rendered, secure pre-authorizations, and reduce the often-duplicative paperwork associated with insurance billing and payments.
From better clinical outcomes to alleviating administrative burdens and reducing waste in the nation’s healthcare system, blockchain is the wave of the future. By embracing this and other disruptive technologies, IT professionals can lead the way in making healthcare and benefits work better for everyone – patients, providers, and our society.