Medical errors, the third leading cause of death in the US!
The healthcare industry is an important but broken system in the US. We have so many people concerned about healthcare, mostly because of the cost of health insurance. The New York Times claims that healthcare costs have grown at an unbelievable rate of over $10,000 per person compared to only $146 in 1960. But now something more is coming to light, and it is something extremely alarming: Medical errors. Did you know that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US? Resulting in over 250 thousand deaths annually. That’s almost twice as many Americans that died in WW1. So why isn’t this big news and more outrage? With the cost of healthcare insurance and the amount of innovation, how can this be possible? Can you imagine having a loved one lost to a medical error? Or having experienced an error that almost kills you with a simple mix up in medication? I know this first hand because it happened to me not too long ago and I am lucky to be alive to tell you about it.
What is causing the problems?
Let’s take a look into some of the problems that are causing such harm in this industry, medical record systems and in particular, the poor quality of electronic health records (EHR) software, but it’s still not helping the industry prevent medical errors. Why? First, EHR software is still using outdated technology from the 1990s (some still use VB6 which Microsoft stopped supporting in 2008 and a database system named MUMPS which is from the 1960s). In 2016, requirements established by the Office of the National Coordinator(ONC) for Health Information Technology, was amended to have more oversight over IT health and EHR. ONC sets certification standards that EHRs must meet to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs. Surprisingly, eClinicalworks, a major EHR vendor, faked their ONC certification, putting patients in danger and providers at risk. Major EHR vendors try to avoid culpability for medical errors by adding non-disclosure and hold harmless clauses to their user agreements to avoid litigation instead of fixing critical problems with their systems. ONC regulations did not address patient data sharing (interoperability) thus leading to something called blocking which now Congress is trying to address this issue. The lack of system interoperability causes problems with the continuity of care and contributes to medical errors. Information from previous visits is not sent to specialist or back to their primary care, which can lead to a mistake because critical information was missing. For example, a patient allergic to iodine is referred to an imagining center for x-rays by their primary care physician. The primary care physician logs the allergy in their EHR but that information doesn’t get sent to the imaging center. The imaging center uses an iodine-based contrast media and the patient goes into anaphylactic shock. This is something called a preventable medical error.
In 2013, the US Department of Health and Human Services under the HITECH act set aside 27 billion dollars to improve Electronic Healthcare Records companies but unfortunately, they have not used the money in a meaningful way to improve EHR software therefore, not having easy access to potentially life-saving health information causing significant risk that unmanaged medical records present. Also, a lack of organization with regard to record keeping can pose a legal threat. Inefficiency can also lead to a loss of productivity, duplication of efforts, or inability to complete necessary tasks and the ability to establish and maintain effective clinical workflows. Insurance companies made the billing process so cumbersome, healthcare providers are willing to give up to 90% off for paying cash(Insurance paid $4,423 for a CT scan compared to $250 if paying cash) Even more, the paper record system requires a physical storage area needing additional office space and employee’s, making healthcare extremely expensive.
Surveys show that EHR’s are a leading cause of anxieties for physicians not just because of mistakes, also because they are extremely difficult to use and consumes more time than using paper records. Poor record management leads to patients not having proper medical records when referred to different specialists and/or other doctors. To make this problem even more complex, the industry is confronted by very strict healthcare privacy laws. All this and more makes medical errors a huge problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible to prevent more deaths.
A better way of managing Medical and Health records:
Let’s dig into what medical records are. Medical records management is the part of records management that relates to the operation of a healthcare practice. It is the field of management that is responsible for all records throughout their lifecycle from creation, receipt, maintenance, and use to disposal.
An efficient records management system can also make it easy to transfer or release information between sites. Both patients and physicians can access the information in a timely manner without duplicating efforts. Arguably, this can increase patient safety, reduce mistakes, and increase confidence in a treatment plan. From a productivity standpoint, an efficient records management system might mitigate litigation risks, lower operating costs (due to reduced physical storage needs), and boost employee productivity, mobility, and efficiency.
How can Duality help with their Blockchain services?
Duality can help with our blockchain technology which includes a plethora of features that have the power to solve some of the healthcare industry most urgent problems: The management of medical records. These Medical records can be transferred into Duality’s BaaS (Blockchain-As-A-Service), which provides amongst others, the following services: Patient identification system (NoID), Health Information Exchange and Electronic Health Record, all which will be secured by extensive cryptographic algorithms embedded into the blockchain, securing the integrity and immutability of these records, making them trusted, secure and instantly accessible whenever it is needed. All this can be done without having private health data stored on the public blockchain.
This is all possible due to the distributed Dynode infrastructure, which eliminates most of the risks of a traditional client/server system; where a single point of failure can potentially cause the disruption and unavailability of a whole patient record management system, and in some cases, the breach and subsequent exposure of sensitive data. Alongside Duality’s unique feature; BDAP (Blockchain Directory Access Protocol), which adds users, groups and domains to our decentralized blockchains helping facilitate BaaS applications and services thus creating a hybrid public-private blockchain. The hybrid network allows for anonymous and identified (permissionless and permissioned) nodes to connect and create a private communication tunnel, in which to share data privately without a third party intermediary.
BDAP also provides users with programmable permissions and organizations for access control. What’s more, it adds tamper resistant participant identities, auditing and certificate entries/records to the Dynamic and Sequence blockchains with anonymous and identified participants allowing for future application creating private and public services such as video streaming for consultations, advice forums with verified knowledgeable experts connecting to anonymous clients. The ability to lookup participants in our directory chain (similar to a phonebook) to create a private Internet connection no matter where the two nodes are located. All this can provides enhanced privacy, efficiency and more importantly, help save lives.
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