MTBC, a provider of proprietary, cloud-based healthcare IT solutions and services has announced the release of new blockchain technology integrated with the company’s Electronic Health Records (EHR) platform to securely store patient medical history, eliminate interoperability issues that have plagued the digitization of healthcare for years, and give patients’ absolute control over who has access to their valuable health data. This makes MTBC one of the first within the healthcare industry to incorporate blockchain technology.
“Right now, every time a physician sees a new patient, a new medical record is created within the EHR used by that provider’s healthcare practice. While this approach is certainly more efficient than paper recordkeeping, issues with interoperability limit physicians’ ability to see patients’ complete healthcare picture as only the encounters within their system are visible,” said A. Hadi Chaudhry, president of MTBC. “Unless patients take the initiative to proactively share details about their health history and any medications that another provider may have prescribed, their current physician is working around blind spots that can adversely impact the effectiveness of care.”
With the integration of blockchain, a continuously growing list of records that are linked and secured using a hashing technique, MTBC has created a medical record “home” that extrapolates patient data into a single, safe, and accessible location. The blockchain technology, called Hyperledger, links directly to the company’s EHR that includes a portal for patients to access their Personal Health Records (PHR) through a computer or smartphone via iOS and Android applications. Through the PHR, patients can grant varying levels of medical record access to physicians of their choosing, no matter what EHR system that provider uses in his or her practice. Once an approved physician adds data in the blockchain, those details are then mirrored to the EHR in real time, so the original record remains up-to-date, secure, and comprehensive while complying with regulatory guidelines.
Maintaining a focus on user efficiency and security, MTBC is allowing other EHR vendors to connect to the blockchain as well. This interoperable approach eliminates the need for providers to duplicate entries in their original EHRs and in the blockchain by linking all applicable records through one data entry point. Not only does it eliminate the need to duplicate entries, blockchain will also create logs so that patients can see exactly who has touched the PHI as well as created new records. Blockchain will also provide patients with a key to access their own data, thus further securing the data. The company is rolling out its blockchain product in a phased launch with the current focus on features that allow patients to grant providers access specific to medication-related information. The second phase, scheduled to launch in the coming months, is slated to include sharing capabilities around physician notes, laboratory reports and clinical assessments.
“Patients have become healthcare consumers who have choices about where they receive their care and who provides it; however, choosing providers across different practices and healthcare systems has traditionally come with unintended challenges of limited data exchange,” Chaudhry said. “This technology enables medical history to be stored and controlled by the patient through the use of secure blockchain technology, allowing that individual the ability to determine what information members of their healthcare team need to see. This truly puts patients in the driver’s seat when it comes to their healthcare journey.”