I never truly understood and to this day do not fully comprehend the cryptocurrency bubble. However, recently during a conversation with another colleague, I realized that the value of blockchain is in the very security and decentralized process of data encryption that makes it optimal for protected health information (PHI). What does that mean, you ask?
I see patients from all over the world, from China and India to South America and Europe, particularly living in Silicon Valley, a hub of international attention. It can be challenging reviewing records in disparate formats across differing platforms. However, we have that very same problem here in one country - if your provider down the street does not use the same Electronic Health Record (EHR) system in which you obtained the images or reports, I cannot view them directly and you cannot share them - unless you access your portal and show the doctor directly on your smartphone, which patients have done - but is that good enough? Alternatively, you print all the information or it is handed to you in a CD and you give it to the doc and say, 'read this, it's all in there'. Imagine being handed 1000 pages of coding 30 times a day that you have never seen, or been trained on, and asked to interpret the results within a 15-30 minute exam.
The glorious challenge is the formatting and tagging of key data sets and critical elements within an EHR that are all secured in varying platforms of technological proprietary silos. What that means is that I may not be able to see your MRI from Singapore and may have to repeat it unless you bring your CD (on your next trip), which may or may not be of diagnostic grade quality. With the increasing use of Medical Tourism and overseas care for certain treatments that are not cleared or approved in the US, it is becoming paramount that we as a conscious society of global civilizations, need to drive innovation of blockchain for our patients' PHI security but also unlocking a marvel of data sharing.
I certainly am not and would never say that I am an expert in blockchain technology, but I can express what problems that are hindering patient care and can the potential of harnessing such a blistering technology. If we can simply realize the value of data sharing across global platforms in a secure manner for information that is vital to our health, maybe we can move forward. Focus on what you would want as a patient traveling the world, and you will code well. Some thoughts.