With the meteoric rise (and dramatic fall) of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies are now part of mainstream conversation. Blockchain, the underlying technology behind Bitcoin, is being touted as the ultimate solution to sharing, security, and transparency problems – often compared to what the Internet did for communications. But can blockchain solve interoperability in healthcare?
The inability to share and act on data across the healthcare ecosystem has been a problem for decades – and private, public, and government entities have been trying to solve it to no avail. While the criticality of data sharing in healthcare is widely recognized, the most recent KLAS report on interoperability showed that 86 percent of providers still have not achieved deep interoperability. Many vendors continue to implement interoperability protocols that work exclusively within their ecosystems – building walls around their data assets. Even for vendors that want to push the industry forward, it is often prohibitively expensive to lead the charge in supporting a common protocol or develop an open application program interface. The result is a heavily siloed ecosystem.
Healthcare continues to have difficulty achieving deep, ubiquitous interoperability because interoperability is not just a technology problem; it is both a technology and a governance problem.
Blockchain may be able to alleviate the technology pain points in the following ways.