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  • Articles (2,352)
  • Facebook’s using AI to prevent suicides

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a suicide occurs every 40 seconds globally.  Social, psychological, cultural and other factors can interact to lead a person to suicidal behavior.  Facebook believes that they are uniquely positioned to help combat suicides amongst adolescents and its users.

    They’re using AI and smart algorithms to detect suicidal tendencies and patterns.  The AI software scans users’ messages and posts for signs of suicide, such as asking someone if they are troubled.  Facebook already has tools in place for people to report concerns about friend's who may be considering self-harm, but the new AI software can speed the process and even detect signs people may overlook. 

    Posts that are flagged as worrisome are communicated to first-responders.  It’s also dedicating more human moderators to suicide prevention, training them to deal with the cases 24/7. They have partnered with organisations like Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Forefront from to provide resources to at-risk users and their networks. 

    Ubiquitous technologies often come with unrealised responsibilities.  Facebook’s demonstrating they're willing to take on these responsibilities and use their platform for greater social and health benefits.

  • Apple health app stores personal medical information

    Giving patients access to their medical records is an increasing priority. It can help them to manage their conditions and comply with medication and treatment requirements

    Apple is determined to make people’s lives easier. It’s created a new app that people can use on their iPhones to access, view and store their medical records on their person. Data on the app includes; allergies, test results, prescription drug list, immunization records or general health histories. Patients can also add files to the menu, provided they comply with Clinical Documented Architecture (CDA).

    Medical records information’s transmitted electronically from participating providers to patients’ iPhones. It needs patients to opt into the service via the health app and be able to browse through their data as well as receive new notifications when updated.  

    Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief Operating Officer (COO), assures that the app’s data is password protected an encrypted. It even denies Apple access to the information unless it is shared by patients.

    An announcement by Apple says patients with multiple chronic conditions will probably have considerable benefit.

    There’s a tricky bit about portals and patients accessing their medical records. A study reported on eHNA found for some patients, access made no difference to their health outcomes compared to patients who didn’t have access.

  • Will robots be cooking on gas in hospital kitchens?

    Inpatients need nutritious meals as part of their care plans. This puts hospital catering services as an important part of healthcare teams. While robots in clinical activity have received considerable attention, their opportunities in hospital catering hasn’t. Flippy might change that.

    A report  in Tech Crunch says Miso Robotics is rolling out a robotic kitchen assistant. It’s called Flippy. It’s first job’s flipping burgers. Already, it’s a bit of a celebrity, with a YouTube and Vimeo performances. 

    While burgers may not be the ideal meal for inpatients, Cali Burger makes and sells burgers in twelve countries and found Flippy its first job. It doesn’t look like a chef.

    It’s a small, wheeled cart with a six-axis robotic arm and  a sensor bar. It takes data from thermal sensors, 3D sensors and several cameras to assess its environment. Digital systems send tickets from the counter to the kitchen as Flippy’s orders.

    Then, it picks up unwrapped burgers, puts onto a hot grill, tracks their cooking time and temperature, then alerts chefs when to apply cheese or other toppings. When that’s done, Flippy plates the burgers.

     but doesn’t wrap them or add finishing touches like lettuce, tomatoes, avocado or a restaurant’s signature sauce.

    Momentum Machines makes kitchen robots too. Flippy’s different. It relies on  AI software and machine learning, so it learns to make new foods, adapting to a restaurant’s seasonal menu changes. This might be the potential for Flippy’s descendants to take on more sophisticated jobs in hospital kitchens. Let’s hope they’re not wayward offspring called Floppy.

  • An HIV-free future: improving adherence to antiretroviral treatment

    It is common knowledge that HIV and AIDS has long been an overwhelming challenge in Africa. East and sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region in the world.  Statistics indicate that at least 19.4 million people are living with HIV in this part of the continent. South Africa alone has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world with 7.1 million people living with HIV.  In 2016, there were at least 270 000 new infections and 110 000 AIDS-related deaths in the country.

    These statistics are worrying, but there is hope. It is estimated that 61% of adults and 51% of children in East and Southern Africa are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Antiretroviral medications (ARVs) are life-saving drugs that have turned HIV into a manageable chronic condition. The disease is no longer a death-sentence and when HIV-positive people take their ARVs responsibly and strictly.

    Adherence to ART is often an overlooked issue despite its incredible importance. In order for an HIV-positive person to achieve an effective level of viral suppression, adherence to ARVs needs to be more than 95%. This means that there is very little room for those living with HIV to skip their ARVs.

    Remembering when to take medication on time can be challenging for many reasons. People use different methods to remind themselves, but in most cases, these methods are not always reliable or effective.

    MyTherapy, a medication reminder and health tracker app designed in Germany, is an effective and easy-to-use app that has been proven to raise adherence levels significantly. In a short space of time, the app has improved adherence by over 45% and currently has over 500,000 users.

    While the app’s main function is to help its users keep track of their medication intake, it has also been designed to improve their overall health and sense of wellbeing. Users can record important measurements, like blood pressure and weight, and track their symptoms, and for those living with HIV, the app allows users to enter lab-results data, such as blood tests, kidney-function tests and viral load.

    The app is easy-to-use and all users have to do is enter the relevant data and set alarm times. The app is designed to handle complex medication regimens, perfect for ART which requires multiple medication intake per day, and all recorded data can be printed out at the end of each month in easy-to-read graphs, which is useful for the user’s doctor. Furthermore, while the app does rely on self-efficacy and self-discipline, users can invite family and friends on the app to help them stick to their treatment plans, ensuring that various parties are involved to promote adherence further. MyTherapy also takes data protection and privacy seriously, and users also have the option to use a passcode to prevent others from accessing the app and seeing personal data.

    ARVs are exceptional drugs that have changed the face of HIV and AIDS forever.  There is potential for an HIV-free future, only if those living with the virus are responsible and take their ART strictly.

    Knowledge of HIV/AIDS is continuously expanding. Information in the article's taken from Avert and the NCBI. 

  • An analytical view of Blockchain aids understanding

    Paradigm shifts are regularly sought after by information and ICT initiatives. As a set of ideas, assumptions, and values that can help to live and see the world, a paradigm doesn’t seem easy to shift. In The Business Blockchain, published by Wiley, William Mougayar describes how Blockchain’s a paradigm shift. 

    It’s part of a sequence of paradigm shifts of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and now Blockchain. He’s firm that Blockchain’s different to all that’s originated before. It’s also tricky to understand, with a clear grasp of its philosophy essential to comprehend its technical components.

    Blockchain has six enablers, programmable: 

    AssetsTrustOwnershipMoneyIdentityContracts.

    Creating ATOMIC, Mougayar delves well into each of these. This delving and diving’s a characteristic of the book. It’s the knowledge and insights that these provide ensure it’s not a superficial overview or description. Examples are the explanation of the set of basic principles and the emphasis on Blockchain’s decentralisation features.

    Wynton Marsalis, the jazz trumpeter said to understand art, you must come to art. Art will not come to you. This resonates with Blockchain. Mougayar’s book’s essential to begin the journey. Africa’s health systems need to follow the tricky route to ensure strategic opportunities are not lost. 

  • Need a Big Data and AI overview; this’s it

    It seems that Big Data isn’t big after all. David Stephenson, in his book Big Data Demystified, published by Pearson, says “Big” significantly understates the volume and differences to conventional data. Understanding it needs to be in its context of AI and Machine Learning (ML). 

    He ranges over Big Data’s:

    UsefulnessEcosystemStrategyImplementationTechnology selectionTeam buildingGovernance and legal compliance.

    Case studies bring each of these into practical environments. While Stephenson’s keen on Big Data, his book’s not an exhortation to rush into initiatives. Instead, his “Keep in mind” boxes are valuable switches from his commentary that provide realistic insights for policy makers, strategists, executives, managers, practitioners, health workers and students.

    It’s clearly written and offers new, late and in between comers to Big Data many very valuable insights and case studies. Examples are his analyses of Big Data’ infrastructure requirements and its 3Vs, Volume, Velocity and Variety. His concept of a “data lake” draws a vivid perspective of Big Data’s difference to databases 

    He includes a salutary lesson. Many Big Data projects “Die on the launch pad because of inadequate preparation, internal resistance or poor programme management.” His case study was a $62m crash.

    As Africa’s health systems move towards more Big Data opportunities, Big Data Demystified will help to set scenarios that lie ahead. Investment in new skills is part of it.

  • Cyber-security projects reveal priorities

    As cyber-security activities step up, Barkly shows how their priorities can indicate strategies that organisations can adopt. 

    Its report identifies twelve cyber-security investment in relative priority order. They’re: 

    Endpoint security using advanced malware protection and prevention, the top priorityAccess and authorisationEndpoint protection using response and threat huntingCyber-security intelligenceData protection using encryptionApplication securityNetwork traffic visibilityWireless securityIncident response toolsBring Your Own Devices(BYOD) securityEmbedded security in IoTDistributed Denial of Service (DDOS) protection, the lowest priority. 

    Alongside these initiatives, cyber-security teams are researching and evaluation cyber-security tools. It’s an activity that needs considerable cyber-security skills and resources. For Africa’s eHealth, it means two initiatives are needed, one to recruit, train and retain experts, and provide additional resources needed by them to fulfil their role. 

  • Cape Town’s eHealth accelerator programme offers opportunities for graduates

    Many of us have good ideas. Turning them into action is often harder.  Cape Town's Accelerator Programmes aims to help. It offers opportunities for graduates to access finance and work experience to turn their ideas into a viable business.

    There are two pilot programmes. Accelerator two opens for applications on the 15th March 2018. Accelerator one has announced its eight finalists. They participate in a ten week online programme and have face to face interactions with their mentors. 

    Business coaches in eHealth started on the 23rd January 2018. The course extends over 10 weeks. There is one topic each week taking about ten hours. Finalists take part in discussions about health problems and solutions. Strategic planning, alignment to health-care environments, defining and marketing proposals are the main themes.  Discussions on topics relevant to running a profitable and beneficial eHealth business are included too.

    Finalists are :

    Petrus Van Niekerk :  Udok allows doctors to interact with patients who are far away as well as administer treatment and monitor patient careDr William Mapham : Vula Mobile is a system which allows doctors to refer patients to specialists in tertiary hospitals Dr Anuschka Coovadia : HealthAtHome is a company that will provide patients with the best care from the comfortability of their homes at an affordable price. Brighton Khumalo : ConnecTB is an online tool which allows health care providers to register and monitor TB patientsNicole Van Der Merwe : GeneCare Molecular Genetics will provide patients with access to customised diet plans as well as exercise programmes which will be accompanied by educational video coachingDr Musaed Abrahams : Aviro Health has developed an app that will mentor nurses in primary health care to efficiently treat patients with HIVSuretha Erasmus : GC Network  has developed a pregnancy screening app that educates pregnant mother of their individual risk for a chromosome abnormality as well as provides detailed information regarding available prenatal testing which will help the mothers make informed decisionsVere Shaba : RAR Group VRHEALTH is a company that created a virtual yet realistic world for substance abuse patients who have been placed in a rehabilitation to develop new behavioral patterns through the virtual world Is the programme a model for Africa’s other health systems? It offers a smart way to encourage and develop Africa’s budding eHealth entrepreneurs. 

  • Acfee welcomes two new interns

    Acfee’s intern programme plays an important role in helping to achieve our goals in the rapidly expanding and competitive African eHealth landscape. In February we welcomed two talented and driven young professionals:

    Ms Kamogelo Motlhomi, a clinical associate graduate from Wits University Ms Nontobeko Shabangu, a public health graduate from Monash University.

    Acfee interns acquire relevant, practical exposure to numerous aspects of the eHealth industry. In return they contribute fresh perspectives on eHealth’s challenges and opportunities, adding new insights and ideas to Acfee’s vibrant talent pool. 

    We look forward to a year of knowledge sharing, value creation and successful outcomes. Welcome to the Acfee team!

  • mHealth’s proven impact still seems elusive

    Africa has an expanding, diverse mHealth core to its eHealth initiatives. The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) found limited evidence of mHealth’s impact, and hinted that in low-income countries, mHealth’s still at an early development stage.

    JMIR’s systematic review covered 10,689 mHealth articles, including 23 systematic reviews of 371 studies with over 79,609 patients. Seventeen reviews included studies of low- and middle-income countries’ initiatives. 

    SMS for a wide range of purposes seems to be the most common type of mHealth. It includes reminders, alerts, educations, motivation and illness prevention. Ten reviews gave them an Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) score of 0 to 4, low quality. Seven were rated as moderate quality, an AMSTAR score of 5 to 8. Six were rated as high quality, an AMSTAR score of 9 to 11. 

    mHealth for  chronic disease management scored well for impacts of:

    Improved symptoms and peak flow variability in asthma patients and fewer hospital admissions and improving forced expiratory volume in one secondImproving Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) symptomsImproving heart failure symptoms and fewer deaths and hospital admissionsImproving glycaemic control in diabetes patientsImproving blood pressure in hypertensive patientsReducing weight in overweight and obese patientsBetter attendance ratesBetter adherence to tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus therapy in some scenarios, with evidence of decreased viral loads.

    While these are positive results, the benefits may still be moderate.  JMIR concluded that “Evidence for efficacy is still limited. In general, the methodological quality of the studies included in the systematic reviews is low. For some fields, its impact is not evident, the results are mixed, or no long-term studies exist.”

    The lack of reliable evidence doesn’t mean that Africa should slow down its mHealth investment. Instead, it means it should set up a reliable methodology to reveal the range of good and bad impacts. Lessons from these will be invaluable.

  • Telehealth providers have five trends

    As Africa’s mHealth initiatives move on, opportunities to include telehealth are expanding. Options for health systems can follow five provider trends. MDLIVE has described these in Wellness Gone Wireless:Top 5 Trends Driving Telehealth in 2018, available from Fierce Markets. 

    The trends are: 

    Expansion of cloud-based smartphone technology and health and wellness wearables, creating more engaged consumersAI innovation enabling more refined data analytics and personalised patients’ experiencesReduced reliance on reimbursement models, expanding providers and patients populationsConsumer satisfaction driving more demand and lower costsDisciplined focus on data security, driving increased consumer confidence and suppliers’ oversight. 

    Removing barriers to access telemedicine’s part of these trends. It can improve healthcare quality and removes geographic limitations on access. It’s becoming easier to match providers to community needs.

    These are encouraging signs for Africa’s telehealth priorities.

  • eHealth for mental health needs more intelligence

    Cinderella never thought that her success would attach her name to parts of healthcare. Countries’ mental health service is one of them, and its eHealth investment is being held back too. A study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) sets out to explain why. It investigated individual characteristics that influence both preferences and intentions to use eHealth for mental health in Australia. It identifies factors that might inhibit or enable eHealth.

    It found low reported preferences for eHealth for mental health services. Despite this, intentions to access these services are higher. This raises the challenge of how to translate these intentions into activities that use eHealth services. It found that strategies designed to enhance confidence and familiarity and ease people into new Internet-based mental health service programs may be important for increasing the chances of sustainable use. But, will users return to eHealth later? 

    It’s a worthy goal, but the study found that most respondents, almost 86%, prefer face-to-face services. The scope to engage eHealth users was found to be up to 40%. It’s a significant user base that needs supporting.

    Acfee identifies several factors that needed in eHealth to secure benefits. They include:

    Stakeholder engagementMeeting users’ information requirementsEasy to useHigh level of utilisation. 

    Putting these in place for the 40% will increase the chances of sustainable use and benefits realisation. For Africa, with its limited healthcare resource base, supporting up 40% mental health patients with eHealth access offers a valuable way to expand mental health services at minimal cost. It’s an opportunity. It’s not easy to achieve.

  • A smart watch can detect epilepsy

    Epilepsy is a leading serious neurological condition worldwide.  It has particularly significant physical, economic and social consequences.  Recognising the need for an intervention, Empatica Inc. has developed a smart watch to detect seizures in epileptic patients.  They’re calling it Embrace.

    Embrace uses machine learning algorithms to monitor and detect different seizure types, including grand mal or generalised tonic-clonic seizures. Electrodermal Activity (EDA)* sensors in the watch are used to measure multiple indicators of a seizure. 

    It’s also accompanied by an app that will send an alert, via text message, to a healthcare provider or caregiver once a seizure is detected.  Additionally, the app serves as an electronic seizure diary and health record for the user.

    During a clinical study involving 135 epileptic patients, Embrace’s algorithm was shown to detect 100% of the seizures, including the 40% of silent seizures that were unreported in patient clinical diaries.  Following this, the smart watch has received FDA approval as well as approval in Europe as a medical device for epileptic monitoring.

    Embrace’s high sensitivity is revolutionising seizure reporting.  It serves as a much awaited alternative to wearing an EEG, that is automated, and isn’t bulky or cumbersome to wear.

    *signals used to quantify physiological changes in the sympathetic nervous system 

  • Three mHealth apps help with treatment adherence

    Adherence to medication is an increasing problem in primary health care in Africa. It is important for many things, from birth control to antibiotics to ARTs. When medications are forgotten or skipped, most treatments are no longer as effective.  This becomes both costly for the healthcare system and detrimental to a patient’s health.

    Factors impacting adherence are multifaceted and include social, economic and psychological motives.  A sub-Saharan study in 2017 reported the most common barriers to adherence were;

    ForgettingLack of access to adequate foodStigma and discriminationSide-effects of the medicationTraveling

    With the uptake of smartphones in Africa, mHealth apps targeting treatment adherence could be a simple solution.  Here are the top 3 downloaded treatment adherence apps on Google Play Store. 

    PatientPartner

    This app turns patient education into an adventure game and shows patients the importance of sticking to a treatment schedule.

    Medisafe

    In addition to medication reminders, this app will notify friends and family if the user defaults. Medisafe also launched a low-tech version that sends reminders through automated phone calls and text messages. 

    MyTherapy

    After logging their medications on the MyTherapy app, users will receive reminders and alerts to take their medications.  Other features on the app include symptom tracking, healthy lifestyle tips and friends and family support groups.

    Improved adherence means a healthier society and ultimately, a reduced burden on healthcare systems.  Moreover, access to adherence data from these apps could help doctors and policy makers make better informed decisions about how to improve the healthcare system.

  • Voice recognition reduces Tanzania's patient waiting times

    Patients at the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam no longer have to endure long waiting times for their radiology results.  This is thanks to a new technology installation in the department.  Voice recognition or speech recognition technology is now being used to encode doctors notes on patients so that they can easily be transferred to the radiology department. 

    With this new technology, Tanzanian medical professionals are able to dictate into their computers, in the normal course of speaking and have the speech engine recognise what the clinician wants, and then apply the commands or structured words, respectively, to obtain a radiology report for a patient.  There has been some concern around the effect of speech accents on the technology, but this has posed no problems since implementing it at the hospital.  

    The speech engine is also capable of showing the cardiology report template populated with the name of the patient and other demographic data. By dictating the cardiology report narrative, the computer recognises the narrative context and intent and condenses a complete, correct, and structured document.

    This translates to shorter waiting times for patients, greater operational efficiency within the hospital and reduced workload on medical staff who are required to take notes of patient examinations and consultations.  The technology, which uses natural language processing, is constantly learning speech behaviour through repetitive exposure to terms and complex algorithms that organise speech patterns into recognisable behaviour. 

    This bold technology implementation in Tanzania could be a useful pilot for overburdened health care systems in Africa hoping to achieve the same benefits.

  • Can Africa adopt a modern master patient index?

    Paper patient administration and medical records can be unreliable in sustaining patient identification. Overcoming their limitations needs a sound Master Patient Index (MPI) and effective patient identification as a foundation for dependable eHealth. A white paper from Verato, an MPI vendor, describes a way to do it.

    A thesis in The Future of Healthcare Depends on a New Architecture for Patient Identity Interoperability has five components:

    Healthcare will involve extensive co-ordination across the full care continuumThe ability to access patient information is the cornerstone of co-ordinationResolving patient identities across disparate systems and enterprises is critical to accessing informationCurrent MPI technologies can’t resolve patient identities consistently enough or well enough to support emerging information needsMPIs patient identity resolution technology must support the new needs as part of a highly accurate, national patient identity resolution service.

    Africa’s health systems can apply these criteria to their strategic and procurement choices. They apply to all types of eHealth, not just EHRs. It’s a core requirement for improving healthcare efficiency. It supports a shift from point-in-time service towards effective healthcare co-ordination too.

    Three themes are needed for effective access to patient information: 

     Agreed rules and policies for sharing patient dataStandardised access protocols and content in EMRs and EHRsPatient identity matching.

    A unique national patient ID number is seen as supporting these. But Verato sees this as logistically

    Impossible, politically untenable because of privacy implications and would not help link people to pre-existing medical records. Relying on basic demographic identifiers such as name, address, birthdate, gender, phone, email, and social security numbers aren’t a solution because they’re prone to error when patients register at receptions and can change over time. About 8 to 12% of people may have more than one identity in any given hospital system, with actual medical histories spread randomly across them.

    MPI matching techniques was invented in 1969, and obsolete. Verato sees the solution as a pre-built, cloud-based, nationwide MPI that healthcare organisations  can plug into. It can avoid the need for extensive algorithm tuning, data standardisation, data governance, data cleansing, or data stewardship. It can help to achieve better compliance with data standards. 

    As Africa’s eHealth moves on, the concept can be assessed as an investment option. If it’s not, then an option to deal with the limitations of conventional MPIs may be needed.

  • Ghana prioritises telemedicine for universal health coverage

    The Novartis Foundation and the Ghana Health Service have announced the successful integration and scale-up of a pilot telemedicine programme started in the Ashanti Region in 2011.  Full national coverage of telemedicine services is expected to be possible by 2019. 

    The telemedicine programme strengthens healthcare capacity by empowering community health workers, while also improving the quality of their care.  Additionally, this avoids unnecessary referrals, thereby reducing transport costs for patients. 

    Community health workers make use of mobile technology to connect to health professionals and specialists via a tele-consultation centre.  Doctors, nurses and midwives in the tele-consultation centres instruct community health workers and advise on the treatment of their patients, particularly in emergency care. 

    The success of the telemedicine model has prompted Ghana Health Service to implement the programme across the nation as part of its national e-health strategy to improve healthcare delivery.  With sustained government leadership, this initiative could transform healthcare for years to come.

  • Kenya introduces an ePharmacy app

    MyDawa is an eHealth platform that allows consumers to purchase medications and other health and wellness products via a mobile application.  The platform was launched to the Kenyan market in March 2017 and has already attracted more than 30 000 registered users. 

    After downloading the app from the Play Store or App Store, registered users can simply search medications they require, upload a medial prescription if necessary, add to their cart and proceed to payment.  Once the order is completed, medications and products purchased will be delivered to the consumer at their convenience. Purchases that require a prescription are verified by a pharmacist before dispensing to the consumer’s mobile cart. 

    The MyDawa solution allows customers to gain the advantage of having increased transparency, convenience and affordability.  Products sold on the MyDawa app are 40% below the market price, and even 3rd party products are sold 20% cheaper than usual.  The app’s popularity in Kenya is driven by rising healthcare costs and value conscious consumers.  Payment on the app is made simple and allows consumers to pay via M-Pesa.

    This a great example in Africa that emphasizes the need for healthcare vendors to continue to embrace disruption in the industry, to become more efficient, to lower costs, increase accessibility to healthcare and provide patient-centric care.

  • Limited IOp’s a drag on benefits

    For several years, health informaticians and other eHealth’s ICT experts have recognised the link for effective Interoperability (IOp) and eHealth benefits. Now, US finance executives have added to the case for more IOp.

    A US Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) survey of 117 financial executives identified their views. It found an increasing need for an increased IOp priority, slightly up to from 68% in 2015 to over 70%. Almost a quarter, 24%, said their organisations can’t share data effectively with other providers and payers.

    Their views extended to external and internal IOp. Both are seen as a combined, upcoming primary focus of healthcare providers. Three drivers are:

    Current shortcomingsAnticipated future needIncreasing demand for access to numerous data sources.

    While the survey may not have revealed much that’s new about IOp, it’s a valuable reminder that progress is slow. For Africa’s health systems, it confirms the long timescales needed to reach high IOp levels. If it’s taking the rich US health systems so long, Africa’s can’t expect rapid results. Slow, steady and sustained seem to be their IOp plan.

  • Healthcare enters the blockchain ecosystem

    Over the last few years, healthcare has seen a record number of security breaches involving healthcare data.  This has prompted several start-ups to realise the work that needs to be done on the cyber-security front to make healthcare data secure.  Blockchain offers one potential solution to this challenge. Other solutions offered by blockchain include interoperability and the ability to connect data silos for more seamless systems and improved patient safety.

    SimplyVital Health is one of those start-ups experimenting with blockchain technology to give the healthcare industry a facelift. The company has developed a decentralised open-source protocol that will enable frictional-less sharing of healthcare data.  Their Health Nexus is a public-permissioned blockchain. It provides a platform to build advanced healthcare applications while maintaining the privacy and security required in the healthcare industry. 

    The developer tools on the Health Nexus are open source and available for free.  Members are able to build and deploy distributed apps utilising the blockchain protocol for transactions, identity and smart contracts, and a distributed hash table (DHT) for data storage, managed by a governance system. This will allow developers to create valuable solutions for pharmacies, healthcare providers, insurers, clinical researchers or patients.  

    Blockchain is certainly paving opportunities for new business models in healthcare.  The trajectory it will follow in the coming years, however, is an unmapped terrain waiting to be explored.  The road ahead for blockchain and healthcare will also require substantial intra-industry cooperation as well as dialogues between the public and private sectors regarding standards and regulatory frameworks.