Blockchain technology and healthcare service
by Esther Oh
Hi, my name is Esther and I joined Edenchain Partners Korea this month. Since coming onboard, I have had the privilege of trailblazing the next generation IT frontier every time I come to work and it has been an exhilarating experience. Prior to joining Edenchain, I worked closely with health insurance companies in the US. As my work encompassed clinic management and public relations, I handled my fair share of patient complaints. In hindsight, I would summarize that most of the complaints were rooted in one thing: unclear and inefficient information transfer involving payers. Let me give you an example. Please note that personal details of the following story were modified in compliance with privacy laws.
Dave made an appointment at our clinic for his condition. Before his first visit, I called his insurance company to verify the benefits and coverage regarding his treatment. The verification process took me a good 20 minutes as I had to speak with a representative. After 20 minutes, I was given the insurance information with a disclaimer that the verification is not a guarantee of payment as the insurance company has to review all the pertinent factors prior to a settlement. I told Dave the vague estimate with the same disclaimer: his actual responsibility may differ from the current quote. Dave was exasperated as my quote was way off from what he anticipated. Uncomfortable conversations ensued followed by several lengthy calls with his healthcare concierge agent and several insurance representatives, a different person for each call. The verdict? Both his concierge service agent and the original insurance representative had given us wrong information. This was after the point that he had already filled out new patient registration forms, a requirement for all new patients as clinics do not share the information. Two hours had gone by because of the mishap. In the end, Dave had to leave the clinic without getting his treatment to attend to another obligation.
I can now easily see how adapting blockchain technology would have prevented a lot of hassles for all parties involved in the aforementioned situation. Before going into alternate scenarios, let’s go over the following three properties innate to blockchain technology that makes it so revolutionary: the pillars that support new possibilities for varying industries.
- Decentralization: information spread amongst all individuals within the networks. No central authority that holds the information.
- Transparency: anyone can check everyone’s transaction history while maintaining one’s privacy.
- Immutability: virtually no one can change the information without getting caught red-handed.
With these properties in mind, we can imagine how differently the above situation could have gone down with blockchain technology.
First, I would have saved my 20 minutes calling up the insurance representative which ultimately proved to be useless. The most recent information on Dave’s insurance plan would have been available on my end just a few clicks away.
Second, I would have gotten the correct information on the first try. Moreover, all parties involved would have gotten the same correct information. By the nature of blockchain networks, information must be approved by 51% of participants (nodes) in a given network prior to having it linked to the chain, and is immutable upon addition. Any changes will be automatically updated to all nodes. Therefore, the representative, concierge agent, Dave and I would have been in agreement from the start.
Third, the level of information I provided Dave could have been an accurate quote, not a vague number with a disclaimer hanging like a bad omen foreshadowing a horrid balance bill. For the sake of an accurate quotation, privacy laws aside, the blockchain would allow both Dave and I to examine the contractual conditions set by the insurance company and his medical history to calculate the treatment cost.
Lastly, Dave would not need to fill out his information more than once. Once he enters his information and is safely stored in a block, he then can grant access to his information to respective clinics when he visits them.
A few days ago, I met up with a friend who is working on a technology that will improve diagnostic healthcare service in third world countries. As we brainstormed ideas as to how best utilize the new technology, we agreed that connecting patients, doctors, government, and other companies with similar interests is imperative for success. As a means to achieve the aim, blockchain technology naturally surfaced as a good contender. Moving beyond the healthcare realm, blockchain technology has become synonymous with the 4th industrial revolution, thanks to its dynamics that could fundamentally change the current industrial structures. As a new member of Edenchain Partners Korea, I find it most rewarding to be part of the next big movement and contribute to its progression at its infancy. If you also want to ride the next big wave of change and come out at the top, follow us and best position yourself with this next big thing.