Hospitals in Hawaii are now turning their attention to using blockchain technology to help aggregate data from EHRs across the state. Austin-based Timicoin, a blockchain-as-a-service company, has teamed up with First Vitals Health and Wellness to employ the technology in aggregating data from EHRs across the state of Hawaii, according to a statement.
The plan, currently just in a development stage, is intended to help providers fulfill the care coordination requirements of the of the CMS Comprehensive Primary Care Plus program, which is a nationwide primary care model that includes regional-based multi-payer payment reform.
Why it matters
Interoperability in EHRs has caused both patients and providers frustration for nearly a decade now. In 2009, President Barack Obama kicked off a program to incentivize providers that went to electronic records. While the adoption rate of EHRs by American providers skyrocketed during this time period — from only 9 percent of hospitals having the systems to 80 percent in 2013 — in the rush to create these systems, hospitals went to different EHR vendors, and those vendors didn't take the time to come to a consensus about storing and sharing data in standardized ways.
Some healthcare providers see blockchain technology as one key to solving the interoperability problem. Estonia uses blockchain technology to help give its citizens control over their health records and facilitate proper use of the records by the medical community.
Many American hospitals are starting to look at the possibilities of blockchain.
“All of us walk through our lives and we leave a little disconnected trail of healthcare data,” Roger Smith, chief technology officer at Florida Hospital Nicholson Center, said of the EHR landscape during August's Digital Healthcare Innovations Congress in Boston. “So if we go to our primary care physician, who might not be associated with the hospital we go to [for] surgery, then they get data and then we go to a pharmacy and leave a drop of data at CVS. … In some cases a big system might pull some of those data points together, but in general all that data is just locked down. ... The thinking is eventually there will be a product that will be a blockchain of your health history and you will control it.”
On the record
"What we are implementing with FirstVitals is exactly how we envisioned blockchain solving the core issues in healthcare,” Will Lowe, founder of Timicoin/TimiHealth, said in a statement. “TimiHealth is the leading organization in addressing the issues of interoperability between EMRs and the development of a patient-centric care plan that provides a singular comprehensive view of one's data. We are seeing tremendous interest from the health industry and are already engaged in multiple negotiations to bring this solution to large health plans and millions of lives.”