John D. Halamka, chief information officer at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has helped popularize the use of blockchain as a solution to the EHR interoperability challenge. As he wrote in Harvard Business Review this spring, the idea is blockchain, which was originally designed as a ledger for secure financial transactions, would use cryptographic techniques —or keys —to allow auditable access to patients’ records.
Physicians Practice recently interviewed Tim Smith and Florian Quarre, principal/national leader for healthcare IT and senior manager, respectively, at consulting firm Deloitte, to learn about the promise blockchain holds for physician practices.
Physicians Practice: Explain the relevance of blockchain to small- to medium-sized physician practices.
Smith: For right now, small- to medium-sized physician practices should be aware of blockchain, but it could eventually help practices provide patients with a more comprehensive view of their healthcare in a way that’s not possible today.
The difference — and much of this is within the realm of possibility and not proven yet — is the ability to aggregate patient information into one view across all information silos. That means bringing in health plans, benefits, claims data, and revenue cycle information from across all of a patient’s visits at all of their healthcare providers.