While unstructured "notes" sections can be included in comment boxes, there is no standard format for how these should be written, and it is hard to pull insights without diving into detail. Furthermore, this data is often copied and pasted repeatedly into different areas within the EHR, resulting in a phenomenon called "note bloat," when there's so much information it's difficult to make good use of it.
Where Does Blockchain Technology and AI Come In?
Blockchain technology (and apps built on a blockchain) can make data organized and easily accessible, while artificial intelligence makes it possible to extract intelligent insights from vast amounts of data that no human could ever analyze.
Blockchain is a digital ledger that records and shares transactions and interactions in chronological order, providing security and interoperability for healthcare providers and their patients. In healthcare, for example, each patient visit, diagnosis, prescribed treatment, outcome and other key data that goes in the EHR are considered the transactions. Various providers, payers and pharmacies all record this information on the same ledger for a given patient, and they can access the data put there by each other. For example, medications can be noted, assessed and managed to prevent contradictions or misuse.
The apps that can be built on the blockchain further help with parsing and reading data that is logged but with details stored separately—in a PDF, for example. It's worth noting that blockchains for health data can and should be created as a permissioned ecosystem of trusted collaborators with additional controls that protect personally identifiable information while allowing anonymized sharing of personal health information.
Using the database, providers and specialists who see patients for the first time can rest assured that the data regarding previous tests, diagnoses and treatments is accurate. Having highly reliable patient data on the ledger means providers can spend less time on repetitive data entry tasks, prevent catastrophic misdiagnoses and provide better predictive solutions to patients. Furthermore, this data is now much more consumable by intelligent algorithms.
For example, California-based startup PokitDok is using blockchain to develop application programming interfaces (APIs) for the healthcare industry in areas such as identity management, claims and pharmacy in order to create a more secure network for accessing and sharing patient data. It also uses machine learning to analyze large amounts of data and speed up processes—for instance, it's able to run an eligibility check on an insurance claim in just seconds rather than days, saving healthcare providers time and money.