Blockchain Could Improve Your Health Care

Monica Savaglia

Updated April 17, 2018

Imagine you walk into the doctor’s office. You’re sick, and the last thing you want to do is fill out a bunch of the same paperwork you filled out the last time you were in.

Maybe you’re not sick and just there for a routine check-up; it’s still overwhelming.

After turning in all of that paperwork to the front desk, you wait around way past your appointment time. You finally get called to see a doctor at the moment when you thought you couldn’t wait any longer.

You walk back into a room and sit down. You get your vitals taken, and then you get asked by the nurse, “Why are you coming in today?” While all of this is happening, they’re typing your vitals and your response into some sort of database on a computer.

What seems like forever ago, medical records were actually physical. Everything you ever needed to see a doctor was recorded on paper.

My dad was in the military, so we moved around a lot, which meant I had a lot of different doctors… in a lot of different states.

Every time we moved, my dad had to pick up my family’s medical records. It was another thing on his already long list of things to take care of before we moved.

In my first 18 years of life, while living under my dad’s supervision, we moved seven times.

One memory that always stood out to me was going to the hospital whenever we would first move to a new place. I would walk into the hospital with my family, seeing my dad carrying around five different medical records.

He had the responsibility of making sure four other people’s entire medical history stayed intact. To me, that would be a really stressful responsibility to have.

But for my dad, it wasn’t a big deal. He was in the military for over 30 years, so he was used to taking on many responsibilities, and doing so in a timely and organized way.

As I got older, all of the military hospitals — just like other public hospitals — gradually made the shift to electronic medical records.

Nowadays, that’s the norm. There are computers and tablets everywhere in a doctor’s office. The idea is that it’s easier and more efficient, but that hasn’t entirely been the case…

Do Electronic Files Make Doctor’s Visits Any Easier?

The concept behind electronic medical records (EMRs), also known as electronic health records (EHRs), was that they would make it easier to look up information about a patient and for a doctor to understand a person’s health by reviewing past doctor’s visits.

With every visit, your EMR grows larger — logging your weight, blood pressure, symptoms, and other data into your record.

An EMR seems like it would be a neat and organized way to keep your medical information safe and accessible. However, there’s one thing that actually makes this system really messy: almost every hospital and doctor’s office has a different way of storing EMRs.

Lacking a universal way of storing important medical information complicates a doctor’s job and a patient’s life. Not to mention, changing doctors and/or providers could further complicate keeping track of a person’s medical record.

Dr. Paul DeChant had this to say about EMRs:

A prescription refill used to take five seconds of the doctor’s time. Today, it can take 20 to 200 seconds of clicking through boxes, reviewing chart notes and entering orders, depending on the workflow and any questions that arise.

Doctors and nurses spend less time talking to each other these days. Rather than calling a colleague regarding a consult, we enter the referral order. Rather than discuss the patient with the nurse, we type in our orders.

This is causing burnout in medical professionals. They’re more focused on the data than on being medical professionals.

Blockchain Will Improve and Benefit Your Health Care

This is the perfect opportunity for blockchain to step in.

Blockchain forms the backbone of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.

An MIT research project, MedRec, wants to use blockchain in a slightly different way than it has been with cryptocurrencies.

When you go in for a check-up, your doctor enters your medical data in his or her medical records app. With MedRec, an anonymized piece of data would then go up on the blockchain and be stored under your unique identifier.

Essentially, this identifier would be like a hyperlink to the internal records. 

There would be no reason to worry when you have to switch your doctor or provider. It would be simple for your new doctor to look up your records. They’d just need to look up your identifier in the blockchain. 

MedRec would work as a high-tech and high-security index that catalogs your medical history so medical providers can have up-to-date and accurate information about your health.

Because every entry would be stored as a block on a chain, providers could see what kind of recent care you received and when you took certain medications. They would even have access to an urgent care clinic you visited — whether it was in a different city, state, or country.

MedRec research reads:

We note a growing interest among patients, care providers, and regulatory bodies to responsibly share more data, and thus enable better care for others.

MedRec is just getting into this realm of technology, but it has the potential to solve a widespread problem that plagues our nation. As of right now, MedRec and blockchain technology are giving us a glimpse of what we can expect from the future of medical records management… and that’s really exciting! 

Especially if you’re like me and dread going to the doctor because of the inconvenience of repeating the same information over and over again.

Until next time,

Monica Savaglia Signature Park Avenue Digest

Monica Savaglia

Monica Savaglia is Wealth Daily’s IPO specialist. With passion and knowledge, she wants to open up the world of IPOs and their long-term potential to everyday investors. She does this through her newsletter IPO Authority, a one-stop resource for everything IPO. She also contributes regularly to the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Monica, click here.

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