Blockchain Healthcare: The New HIPPA?
HIPPA has a stranglehold on our healthcare system. Can Blockchain finally set us free?
As Casey was plucking away at the pile of documents, she sighed as she took a break.
“This is so stupid!” she said out loud. “And to think we’re paying a fine on every single one of these!”
John overheard the statement and was confused by the statement.
“What do you mean?”
“Our state has this stupid line that we must pay a fine because we still use paper medical records and won’t update to electronic ones.”
At hearing this, John’s curiosity was instantly triggered. John wondered why a medical clinic would still be using paper records on earth. After all, it’s 2019. There must be a more efficient way to send information to clients and insurance companies.
“Why aren’t you guys using some type of digital system? If the state is fining you for doing this, why don’t you just change to a modern system?
“Because we can’t afford it!” Casey exclaimed.
At this moment, John knew he was sitting on a preverbal goldmine. John had been working in the technology sector for years and was always looking for a new use case for blockchain. As soon as he heard Casey say that it was too expensive to switch from paper to digital record keeping, he knew blockchain could help.
“Casey, are you sure about that?” John asked.
“Constantly going through all these file cabinets full of paperwork has become time-consuming. And all of these filing cabinets are taking up serious space in your clinic.”
“Can’t you qualify for a discount or something?” asked John.
“No, because we’re a small clinic. We don’t do enough volume to get a discount or rebate. So, we’re stuck paying full price for their system. Plus, it’s buggy and crashes sometimes and hasn’t been updated since 2006.”
John’s eyes grew larger, and he quickly began to salivate.
“And then the final nail in the coffin is the fines. The state fines us for NOT using a modern electronic system. But the monthly fine we pay is LESS of the monthly subscription for the records service. So we’re just better off paying the fine every month…… Wait, where are you going?”
“Baby, I’m off to save the medical world from outdated centralized systems!!!”
Casey rolled her eyes as John exited the medical clinic with resolve in his eyes.
The Medical Industry it’s biggest competitor: Blockchain
The above story is, unfortunately, an accurate visual of the current medical records system in the United States. Outdated centralized record-keeping systems keep medical costs high, turnaround times slow, and most painful, they do NOT allow customers to control their data.
Patients can’t take their information and “shop around” for medical treatments. This stifles competition among providers and keeps patients trapped with their current providers. And worst of all, these outdated centralized companies petition to fine medical clinics that pay for their services. So, if there was ever an industry desperately needing a blockchain revolution, healthcare is it.
But don’t expect the current regime to go quietly without a fight. According to Brookings Institute, medical records is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. The industry has become increasingly scrutinized for rising costs, not allowing innovation in their space, and lobbying politicians to keep the status quo. These continued actions have led to a new push for change in the health care industry.
Blockchain will soon replace HIPPA
HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA includes the Privacy and Security Regulations, which govern the protection and security of protected health information. These regulations protect individuals by having uniform codes for institutions handling their medical data.
Before we even get into what HIPPA does, you can see from its original date that it is woefully outdated. Any law written before the internet’s mainstream adaption is outdated, especially anything written before the invention of blockchain protocols.
HIPPA sets the standard for data collection procedures. This requires filing cabinet sizes for patient confidentiality and even for electronic data usage. As we saw with Casey and John’s story, HIPPA can issue regulations and fines for non-compliance.
While HIPPA compliance is never an issue for large-scale medical facilities, it becomes a major burden for small outpatient clinics. Gynecologists, pediatrists, and dentists are all examples of small clinics that share an unfair burden for data policies.
These small offices do have large numbers of patients. So, therefore, they cannot negotiate with companies that provide digital record services. As a result, thousands of smaller clinics pay thousands of dollars in fines every month! Many of these smaller clinics have smaller profit margins, so the costs of those fines are ultimately passed down to the consumer.
Blockchain to the Rescue
At the heart of the blockchain is a belief that people should control their assets. Whether it is their money, their entertainment, or even their medical data, people should get full control. That is exactly what the entire medical records industry is shaking. Because for the first time since 1996, they are faced with real competition in the market. Blockchain’s decentralized model advocates for a much more transparent data sharing system than the current one being practiced.
In our example above, John saw firsthand the situation with Casey’s clinic and the solution. John realized that medical disruption was coming. And he’s not alone. Recently Jeff Bozos, Warren Buffet, and Jamie Dimon all met to discuss how to drastically reduce healthcare costs in the United States. And I guarantee you Blockchain was part of that conversation.
Where to begin the Blockchain Journey
Based on the current market, one clear thing: Millionaires are coming. Millionaires who took advantage of this time in history. Profit will be rewarded to those who work to replace these outdated systems in favor of more customer-focused ones. But where to start?
Of all the current Blockchain developments, Ethereum seems to be the one best designed to address these specific needs. This is because Ethereum runs on its decentralized network. This network allows anyone to create a decentralized app known as a DAP. So, the barrier to entry is virtually nonexistent. Anyone who knows how to code can start being their solution to medical record keeping, and that’s precisely what John left to do at the beginning of our article.
Scholars and the educated often think social change comes from the top down. When in reality, it comes from the bottom up. The biggest developments in blockchain won’t come from college classrooms or corporations. It will come from the frustrated Casey’s of the world and her friend John. The very individuals most on the heartbeat of what the average consumer is experiencing. So, medical records are the way to go if you were ever looking for an angle to get rich off-blockchain. But tread quickly, as this problem WILL be solved and solved very quickly. And once it is, people will soon look back and ask themselves, “why did it take so long?”