Let’s face it: the current state of information and data sharing in health care is broken. With numerous electronic health record systems with varying languages and capabilities being employed throughout the country, finding a uniform way to access and share key data is much more cumbersome than one would expect in the 21st Century.
However, there’s an efficient solution on the horizon that’s currently being overlooked, says Jacob Vugrinac, CEO and Founder of PolyBlock Investments, a cryptocurrency and blockchain technology investment firm.
Vugrinac envisions a system in the near future that would allow patients to have their medical and pharmaceutical information stored as data points in a blockchain decentralized ledger, similar to ones tracking the transactions of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But, instead of strictly recording financial transactions, this blockchain would store medical information in a cryptographic database operated by a network of computers that could be accessed by health care professionals utilizing the appropriate software.
“Blockchain will eventually be applied to health care due to the crazy inefficiency we currently see in terms of data sharing,” Vugrinac says. “It’s hard to imagine now, but Blockchain will have a bigger impact on the world than the internet did.”
Blockchain data points are inherently unique and cannot be copied, which means everyone using the system has access to the data it stores, but not the ability to alter the original reference point. Billing and patient data could also theoretically be married together into a single system, a step that Vugrinac says would be huge for the industry as a whole.
But, if that sounds too good to be true, Vugrinac understands the skepticism. Currently, blockchain technology is an abstract concept to the average layperson, not unlike the internet and email in the 80s, says Vugrinac.
“Back then, people really thought letters were good enough,” Vugrinac says with a smile. “Fast forward to today, and I couldn’t do my job without email.”
So, what will it take to help people understand the true potential of blockchain? It’s going to take an “AOL moment”, according to Vugrinac.
“When everyone got those AOL CDs in the mail, providing them with simple internet access, that’s when they finally got online and got their heads around the concept and potential of the internet,” he explains. “The internet had existed for years, but until everyone had easy access, they just didn’t understand it.”
Currently, the only truly prominent mainstream blockchain is the one tracking Bitcoin. Before this technology can disrupt health care, a single platform will need to emerge as the dominant player, Vugrinac says.
“The technology is lagging behind what we want to do with it,” acknowledges Vugrinac. “The hope is that we will eventually get down to a system that the hospitals will agree on, although I expect a few competing players battle for dominance in the market early on.
“But, the question of the day is which one will be Netscape and which is amazon?”
While it may be too soon to answer that question, Vugrinac says he is sure of one thing about this technology’s potential to disrupt the health care industry.
“The doctors and hospitals who are quick to embrace this technology and truly understand how it will help them centralize and store their data are really going to have a huge advantage.”
Vugrinac can be contacted by calling 419-699-2707 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.