Is Blockchain the solution for Health Information Exchange – Part 1

It seemed there are quite a few players who are getting into the business of Healthcare Information Exchange ( HIE ), prima facie it looks great but what is worrying is are we going the way what happened in USA couple of years back.  What HIE does is that it better enables physicians to track and manage patient health records while reducing medical errors and increasing patient safety. Providers have also found that HIE eliminates a lot of the documentation and data entry that was once a part of the office workflow, enhancing health care efficiency.

AllScripts and GE had to undo/redo things to sustain themselves. We should also remember that the India’s healthcare IT is still stuck in medieval age, 80% of the healthcare data is stored and retrieved manually. We don’t have a proper healthcare regulatory framework in India, NeHA( National E health Authority, India) is not set up yet. It is still in the stage of being formulated.  India has recently become IHTSDO member but the providers are not equipped to integrate it into their systems. So the issue is what comes first the bullock or the cart. First we need to Implement EHR otherwise we risk so many providers falling off the radar. The amount of data being generated at all the tier 2/tier 3 cities that are being hoarded without being shared with a central repository is something we need to look at and we need to bring them on board.

There are so many healthcare entities who are working in silos, there is hardly any exchange of information between them and any central repository. The central framework needs to be first implemented so that the players don’t end up re doing lot of work.

There’s a World market today pushing towards integration. Sharing data is going to be key. That’s one of the big challenges they face. But to integrate we need to have healthcare data that is standardized, to be shared and stored with a central repository.

The worry is if we have too many players getting into the space of HIE we also need some mechanism in place, some proper checks and balances, above all we need stronger healthcare data privacy laws like HIPAA, this also begets a million dollar question who is the custodian of the patient data.  It is the patient or the provider or the Government, these are some of the pertinent questions that needs to be answered. There are few who are not comfortable with the storage of healthcare data with the private players. I believe Government should be the ultimate custodian of the healthcare data.

concluding part follows :-

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  1. Very informative, but question is still there, What comes first the bullock or the cart?

    What are the solutions? Technological Solutions?

  2. Thanks Rajiv,

    While blockchain technology is not a panacea for data standardization or system integration challenges, it does offer a promising new distributed framework to amplify and support integration of health care information across a range of uses and stakeholders. It addresses several existing pain points and enables a system that is more efficient, disintermediated, and secure.

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