Blockchain technology—with all its promise to transform interoperability—has yet to make practical inroads into the healthcare industry. But the ongoing march toward value-based care could play a primary role in incentivizing health systems to adopt the innovative technology once it becomes available.
That’s according to Jason Goldwater, the senior director at the National Quality Forum, who underscored the potential benefits of blockchain technology in a Q&A with HIStalk. Access to data, interoperability and patient engagement are the primary selling points behind the more secure mode of information sharing that will give patients more control over their health data, he said.
Blockchain has yet to make its grand entrance into the healthcare industry, but practical solutions may be on the horizon. Last year, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recognized 15 individuals, organizations and companies that outlined innovative uses of blockchain within healthcare. Among those, was a solution developed by the MIT Media Lab that was pilot-tested at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Once that technology enters the market, the transition to value-based care reimbursement will drive providers towards adoption, said Goldwater, who was one of the 15 individuals recognized by the ONC for his suggestion that data from wearables and smartphones could be seamlessly integrated into EHR systems. A distributed ledger that serves as the backbone for blockchain will lead to improved care decisions that support a value-based model by allowing broader and more secure access to data generated both inside and outside the healthcare system.
“With blockchain, you’re taking a large amount of data, personally available data that patients are generating, and being able to look at that on a regular and continual basis to drive better outcomes of care, which then in turn drives value,” he told HIStalk.
Prior to her departure from ONC, former chief privacy officer Lucia Savage noted that blockchain technology was gaining steam, particularly as the industry grappled with persistent cybersecurity concerns. But she also added that blockchain could be expensive and difficult to manage.