The developing field known as the Science of Healthcare Delivery has a primary focus on improving the quality and accessibility of health care, while decreasing associated costs, with the overall goal of improving patient health outcomes. This is commonly referred to as the “Triple Aim.” Currently, there are many limitations impeding progress towards these goals, including lack of political willpower, inconsistent health standards within geographic regions, technological shortcomings, financial constraints, and many more.1 Although there are many aspects of our current healthcare system that can be easily criticized, there are an equal amount of initiatives that are noteworthy in their efforts to obtain a more perfect healthcare structure that addresses the tenets of the Triple Aim. One of these initiatives is known as EHRchain.

EHRchain directly impacts all aspects of the triple aim. By incorporating blockchain technology, EHRchain allows for easier access to pertinent patient medical information, including, but not limited to pathology, radiology, and operative reports, between medical providers. This is done by decentralizing patient information so that different providers and healthcare organizations have access to a single, consistent health record.2 Patients have the ability to regularly update their own information while simultaneously selecting who has access to their records. This can directly address our current data sharing and systems interoperability inefficiencies.

The current lack of interoperability between healthcare organizations, even those within miles of each other, is a concerning problem, one that negatively impacts patient health outcomes. An inability to share patient information can lead to repeat testing that is harmful in nature. One common example is excessive radiation exposure from multiple repeated Computed Tomography (CT) imaging studies that has known detrimental effects on patient health.3 The impact on patient health is further exacerbated by the costs that repeated imaging studies can accrue. Financial expenses in the tens of thousands of dollars are easily reached, much of which can be avoided if previous results were accessible.4 Furthermore, the way in which our current healthcare system utilizes expensive medical technology, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and CT imaging to evaluate patients and diagnose disease, is unlikely change. Therefore, the most logical solution to address the financial costs and the quality of care provided would be to increase patient information exchange between medical groups/providers. This can be can be achieved through EHRchain.

EHRchain continues along a path initially started by executive orders put in place by the Bush administration in 2004 and built upon by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Activity (HITECH) of 2009 along with meaningful use incentives.5 Meaningful Use is categorized into 3 different stages, with the first two stages encompassing the initial adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and the progressive improvement of those programs, respectively. The final stage of Meaningful Use involves the robust and effective exchange of patient information between different systems.6 Unfortunately, the third stage has been notoriously difficult as different healthcare organizations do not have aligning goals. However, EHRchain is a viable solution to this dilemma. As a pioneering company in the realm of interoperability and health information exchange, the completion of the meaningful use and triple aim objectives is within reach.

References:

1. Berwick, Donald M., Thomas W. Nolan, and John Whittington. “The triple aim: care, health, and cost.” Health affairs 27.3 (2008): 759-769.

2. Peterson, Kevin, et al. “A blockchain-based approach to health information exchange networks.” Proc. NIST Workshop Blockchain Healthcare. Vol. 1. 2016.

3. Sodickson, Aaron, et al. “Recurrent CT, cumulative radiation exposure, and associated radiation-induced cancer risks from CT of adults.” Radiology 251.1 (2009): 175-184.

4. Jung, Hye-Young, et al. “Use of health information exchange and repeat imaging costs.” Journal of the American College of Radiology 12.12 (2015): 1364-1370.

5. Adler-Milstein, Julia, and Ashish K. Jha. “HITECH Act drove large gains in hospital electronic health record adoption.” Health Affairs 36.8 (2017): 1416-1422.

6. “Promoting Interoperability.” Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms. May 31st, 2018. Accessed July 17th, 2018

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