Blockchain Series Part 2: Healthcare Inefficiencies

At Iris, we’re focused on identifying inefficiencies in the healthcare sector and figuring out ways that blockchain technology can help. A major time sink for medical professionals arises during their interactions with Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs). Traditional EHRs require hospitals and doctors to spend inordinate amounts of time and money setting up information storage and management systems – these are typically non-shareable between providers and inaccessible to patients.

Today’s EHRs are turning physicians into data entry clerks. A study carried out by the American Medical Association found that doctors spend twice as much time with EHRs than with patients. At Iris, we believe blockchain can be the solution that shifts doctors’ focus back to patient care, by vastly simplifying the process of data entry, sharing and access.

Helping doctors discover information

The fragmentation of patient data across both providers’ and insurance companies’ networks typically prevents doctors from accessing a longitudinal and comprehensive record of care. This erodes the quality of care, and puts lives at risk. Consider an unconscious patient brought in to an emergency room who may be prescribed a medicine she is allergic to in the absence of access to her records. Or a patient who fails to fully disclose symptoms or important medical history (perhaps due to embarrassment, non-compliance with previous advice, or even drug-seeking behaviors).

The Iris-EHR provides a comprehensive patient record, with previous interventions, consultations and symptoms stored in data blocks. Such information will be collected from a variety of subjective and objective sources. Consider the scenario where a patient fails to disclose to their provider that they have been sleeping poorly recently. A wearable device that is monitoring that patient’s wellbeing and updating data to the blockchain can record this important symptom and display it on the patient’s medical record. The doctor no longer needs to rely on the patient’s recollection to obtain this information. Chronological data generated in this way may also be enough for algorithms to preemptively flag such symptoms to the doctor and assist with diagnosis.

Recordkeeping and record accessing

Healthcare data today is often localized to providers and/or insurance networks, resulting in scattered and lost data as patients move between healthcare providers and payers. This issue is typically addressed by asking new patients to disclose important aspects of their medical history during registration with a new provider. The historical medical record to be relied on by a new provider (or a provider offering a second opinion) will therefore consist of that which can be recalled by the patient while registering at reception. In other words, if the patient fails to recall it (or doesn’t deem it necessary or important to disclose), the new provider won’t know. This can have serious ramifications for the long-term quality of care of that individual (particularly in life threating or time sensitive scenarios) and underlines the importance of a single, immutable healthcare record, accessible across a patient’s full spectrum of healthcare providers.

Provider Protection

A blockchain based EHR also provides healthcare provider the security of having their actions and interventions logged in an immutable and truthful record. Providers today spend significant time and money preemptively protecting themselves from malpractice cases, especially in the USA. A blockchain-based unalterable record of their actions would aid them, just as body cameras have aided policemen during the performance of their duties.

Ultimately, at Iris, we aim to provide a seamless healthcare experience for users and providers. This allows doctors to cut out the distractions and do what they are trained to do, treat the patient. Patients in turn benefit from a more engaged healthcare provider, greater autonomy, and reduced healthcare costs.