Artificial intelligence and blockchain: Much more than health IT 'buzzwords'

Nearly everywhere you turn in healthcare today, artificial intelligence and blockchain are two emerging health IT technologies that are coming into their own and getting more and more attention—especially when it comes to solving problems and delivering financial and clinical ROI.


Here are insights from six health IT thought leaders about what the future might hold for these technologies:

Lynn Carroll. Chief of Strategy & Operations of HSBlox: With a single source of truth that reduces errors and the need for reconciliation, blockchain can simultaneously address patient privacy concerns and care continuum data-sharing needs. The use of private permissioned ledgers—where only stakeholders with permission are granted access to patient data—places patients at the center of the data exchange and enables exploration of a holistic medical and social record governed by the patient’s consent. With the continued move towards patient engagement, population health management, prospective disease management, in-home monitoring, telehealth consultations and post-acute outreach can all benefit from the use of blockchain for reliable and secure data-sharing.

Ken Kaufman. Chair of Kaufman Hall: AI has the promise to deliver great benefit through its ability to learn, but as Cornell Professor Steven Strogatz points out, AI can’t explain how it learns, and this is a potential barrier to trust from healthcare professionals and patients.

Brent Lang. President and CEO of Vocera Communications: AI is often viewed as a panacea that will solve all of our problems. In reality, AI is better thought of as an intelligent way to recognize patterns in data and recommend actions. Collecting information about real-time situational awareness, analyzing that data, and delivering the right data to the right person at the right time are not a futurist dream. These things are a reality today in intelligent products that are enabling real-time health systems by delivering rich context about patients and care teams to streamline care and improve patient, family and staff experience.

Matthew Sappern. CEO of PeriGen: We all see the tensions in managing between quality, budget and access to resources in healthcare. As Baby Boomer clinicians retire, the net years of patient-facing experience will continue to take a significant hit. At the same time, the logical and necessary drive to shift care venues further from inpatient settings has given birth to waves of diagnostic telemetry devices and closed loop “data-to-applied health” applications that generate more data, faster than ever before. Clinicians, biomed managers and the whole IT enterprise have got to run, not walk, to embrace promising new technologies. We cannot afford to be paralyzed by seeking perfect; smart, directed, specific and actionable are the catchwords. More than ever, healthcare depends on strong partnerships between vendors and clinicians.

Gurjeet Singh. CEO of Ayasdi: We are just beginning to understand the extraordinary benefits of AI in healthcare; however, due to challenges of interoperability and integration with legacy processes, we haven’t fully realized the true potential of AI at scale. Once these challenges are overcome, we will see a rapid expansion of AI providing unprecedented advances, including improved clinical variation management enabling highly effective targeted care pathways, and identification of rising risk populations with targeted care plans for our aging society. When we combine these advances with powerful adherence capabilities, we will realize the true potential of AI at scale.

Ron Wince. CEO of Myndshft: The current financial management of healthcare is a mess. We can take a big bite out of the $1 trillion spent on healthcare administration by combining AI and blockchain.

The multi-payer system we have in the United States has led to an incredible amount of fragmentation and friction in the current claims-management technology landscape. In addition, prior authorization (PA) requests are still highly manual and time-consuming for providers and payers. PA requests are a prime target for AI and process automation because these requests, especially for medications, in addition to claims submittal, appeals and other payer interactions cost the industry $23 billion to $31 billion each year.

PAs are only the beginning of what AI combined with process automation and blockchain can bring to revenue cycle management. Claims filing and appeals, out-of-pocket estimation, patient communication and patient payment collection can all be executed in a fraction of the time and cost, all without requiring organizations to rip and replace existing systems.



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