Hashed Health, a startup organization based in Nashville, has received $1.8 million to promote and develop blockchain-based healthcare technology. The sources are Martin Ventures and Fenbushi Capital.
Formed in 2016, Hashed Health describes itself as a blockchain healthcare consortium. COO Corey Todaro mentions that it includes “a broad range of types of organizations”. These organizations will coalesce into working groups. A Development Studio will accept ideas from the working groups and bring them from the proof-of-concept level to commercial products.
Hashed Health has joined the Hyperledger Healthcare Working Group. Its principal aim within the group is to work on blockchain libraries and protocols. Other organizations in the group include Accenture, Gem, Kaiser Permanente, and IBM. The working group’s aim is to evaluate use cases for blockchain technology in healthcare. It is turning over a set of 70 proposals to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Hashed Health is working on facilitating transactions
Hashed Health’s gateway projects include a demonstration of the ability to “improve data liquidity” in provider credentials. Confirming provider credentials and enrolling them in payment networks is a tedious process today. Payers often have inaccurate information; according to Hashed Health, the information in their directories is often as much as 20% wrong. Establishing credentials generally takes over 120 days. Patients endure the delays and costs. The complexity of the system is a major cause of high insurance premiums and out-of-pocket charges.
Hashed’s alternative is a “decentralized transaction layer” that holds provider information, including updates and corrections. “Digital data assets” are encrypted data items created by contributors to the blockchain. Only registered users can contribute, following the permissioned blockchain model. Transactions consist of transferring assets from one user to another, and all transactions are recorded on the blockchain. Client applications uses a REST API in peer-to-peer mode.
Auditability is a central goal. Lightweight clients will be able to audit the transaction records, with complete verification rather than just random samples. They can work directly with the blockchain, eliminating the need for a secure server. Providers are required to retain complex documentation for years. Doing this is costly under traditional methods. Blockchain records keep all the information together, protecting it from loss or alteration. Anyone authorized to access them can identify omissions without much trouble.
Blockchain Regulatory and cultural issues
Todaro recognizes that regulation is as big an issue as technology. HIPAA requirements for protection of personal information are strict, and fines for breaches can be huge. Sharing methods that could work in other industries aren’t always feasible in healthcare.
Beyond that, he says that “the biggest hurdle to the implementation of blockchain is the industry culture in healthcare.” Existing business models are based on holding on to data. The idea of sharing data in new ways is “threatening to a lot of enterprises.” Todaro recognizes that requiring organizations to change their workflows will run into heavy resistance; the new technology has to fit the workflow. The consortium’s goal is to develop new forms of organization and build new kinds of competence. It aims for a regulatory environment that will let blockchain approaches flourish.
The working group structure stresses collaboration rather than isolated development. Working together, they’ll be able to develop multiple proofs of concept in parallel, and the Development Studio will pick up the best of the ideas. Projects will stress open-source development.
The ideas which Hashed Health is promoting sound excellent. Businesses will have to work together to develop standards, make secure sharing part of the culture, and obtain a favorable regulatory environment . How much does the consortium have going for it? Does it include any influential members? These are the questions Hashed Health will have to answer in order to prove itself.
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Brennan is a blockchain technical adviser in the healthcare sector and blockchain entrepreneur who has worked on developing proprietary concepts for both artificial intelligence and enterprise blockchain. He is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Health Professions where he earned a M.S. in biomedical informatics.