The Office of the National Coordination for Health Information Technology say about 90 percent of health care providers use some form of electronic health records.
Yet while EHRs offer many benefits, adoption has come with challenges. Physicians say current systems can be inefficient, cumbersome and don’t offer the interoperability they need. Many experts say a blockchain-based system with widespread adoption could help overcome many of these challenges. A solution such as AMCHART could offer a new platform for digitized health records that would be more efficient, transferable and give more control to patients.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says EHRs improve the quality of healthcare and increase convenience for both providers and patients. They also offer faster access to patient records from remote locations and the ability to deliver clinical alerts, reminders and enhanced decision support.
“Blockchain technology can improve portability as well as increase accuracy and transparency of records,” says an AMCHART spokesman. “It lowers the barrier to entry and allows medium-sized organizations to use technology and allow data to be held by the patients and not by large EHR companies.” The blockchain startup is based in Houston, Texas and is a subsidiary of AMSYS Group.
EHRs can also improve patient diagnostics by giving physicians a comprehensive picture to diagnose patient’s problems sooner. A qualified EHR can automatically check for problems when a new medication is prescribed and can increase patient participation by ensuring more high-quality care, offering a communication channel between physicians and patients. The ability for patients to access their own test results and information can help improve outcomes by getting them more involved in their care.
Proponents say patients should control their medical data.
“It is your data, it should belong to you,” says an AMCHART spokesman. “Patients should control their records because they initiate the build of their medical records, allow permission access to doctors, hospitals, and research companies, and get incentivized for meeting objectives.” The Houston-based firm is in the process of launching an initial coin offering (ICO), and aims to raise $45 million.
EHRs can offer many benefits, but adoption has not come without challenges.
Implementation can be expensive and time-consuming. Harvard Business Review said it took two years and $4 billion for Kaiser Permanente to install the nation’s most comprehensive EHR system a decade ago. Other organizations try to build their own or use one of the third-party EHR systems on the market.
Many of these systems are designed primarily for coding and billing and don’t always integrate with the needs of physicians. According to the 2016 Survey of U.S. Physicians by Deloitte, three-fourths of physicians believe EHRs increase practice costs and outweigh any efficiency savings. Seventy-percent also said EHRs reduce their productivity as they now spend more time doing data entry than communicating with patients.
Another big issue is the lack of interoperability. Despite widespread adoption of EHRs, the variety of systems being used can make communication between facilities and physicians difficult. Almost two-thirds of physicians in the Deloitte survey said they want EHRs to be more interoperable, and HHS wants interoperability between all disparate economic health record systems to be a capability by 2024.
There are a number of blockchain-based medical record solutions coming to market. AMCHART offers a simple, secure and adaptable health record that can be accessed by any provider and is built on the Hyperledger Sawtooth lake platform which makes smart contracts safe for consortia. AMCHART is currently holding a token presale and will open its general token sale on March 1.
I’m a single mother of 2 living in Utah writing about startups, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and health. I also write for Inc, Score, Manta, and Newsblaze