Busting Silos With Blockchain

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I’ve never spent much time on farms. But I know a silo when I see it. I spotted one the other day at my doctor’s office. The receptionist handed me an iPad and asked to enter my medical history. Height and weight. Major illnesses and surgeries. What medications do you take? Are you a smoker?

I provide this information over and over again to almost every doctor I visit. Yet it rarely flows from one medical practice to another. The information is stored in a silo that only certain doctors can access.

The “siloization” of information is one of the biggest problems in our troubled health care system. A recent study by MIT’s Critical Data group, an affiliation of research labs at MIT focused specifically on data that has a critical impact on human health, concluded that the health data disconnect between clinicians and data scientists is wasting precious medical research and health care resources, hampering innovation and resulting in poorer outcomes than would otherwise be achievable.

Blockchain technology is being touted by many health care industry and tech executives as a cure for siloization. Jack Liu is the CEO of ALLIVE, an intelligent health care ecosystem based on blockchain technology that provides encrypted health profile, personal AI doctor and comprehensive health care services. He recently told Forbes, “If patient records are recorded and stored in a blockchain-based system, they are secure and unalterable. Patients can grant permission to health care providers to access those records and to package new records into blocks that will become part of a permanent history of that patient.”

Other potential benefits of blockchain include immutable and traceable patient records, reduction of pharmaceutical fraud/theft, improved data exchanges in clinical trials and a significant reduction in insurance fraud. At least one major optical company is already developing a blockchain solutions for its customers, and others will soon follow. It will be exciting to see how this new technology will bust silos in vision care.

akarp@jobson.com