As a growing niche in the tech space, digital health continues to advance at a rapid pace, fueling massive disruption and innovation in the healthcare industry.
Remarkably, blockchain technology, the system undergirding Bitcoin and other forms of digital currency, has emerged as a major catalyst behind this activity.
One company that is garnering a robust amount of attention in this space is Patientory. Founded by entrepreneur and healthcare expert Chrissa McFarlane, Patientory’s vision is to deliver population-health solutions that enable healthcare organizations to boost their clinical outcomes through physician-coordinated care.
As a patient-centered protocol supported by blockchain technology, it endeavors to empower individuals to manage their health information in a manner that offers true interoperability and security. As a free, advanced healthcare app, it allows users to create a patient profile to keep track of their health history. This app provides patients with an easy and seamless means of tracking doctor visits, medical bills, personal medical information, insurance, immunizations and pharmacy medications.
Patientory’s genesis has roots in the 2016 inaugural class of the Boomtown Health-Tech Accelerator in Boulder, Colo. in collaboration with the Denver-based Colorado Permanente Medical Group. The company has also benefited from its participation with the Startup Health portfolio, a global organization leading the worldwide movement to transform health. It has a strong blockchain management team and a broad-based advisory board that spans both healthcare and business expertise, including Shawn Wilkinson, CEO of the blockchain company Storj.
Utilizing blockchain technology, Patientory encrypts medical patient information in hospitals and insurance companies so that the data is distributed, thus meeting the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) Security Rule. Through the coordination of patient care via a blockchain health information exchange, unnecessary services and duplicate tests are essentially alleviated, thereby lowering costs and improving the continuum of care cycle.
A Token Advancement
In a major announcement targeting one of the biggest issues in healthcare, that of connecting digital medical records without compromising privacy, Patientory announced in April the launch of its PTOY token, the first of its kind within the healthcare industry. Patientory’s token sale will go live on May 31.
The intent behind PTOY is to power the Patientory network, a secure, closed-loop distributed ledger system connecting all parties in the healthcare ecosystem. This will allow the seamless exchange of health data within a highly-secure, blockchain-powered health information exchange.
From a quality of care standpoint, this tokenization approach will incentivize medical providers to provide world-class care while adopting innovative practices that yield better care outcomes. In effect, these providers will be rewarded through a compensation model that encourages quality of care collaboration and cost reduction.
McFarlane, Patientory’s CEO, said that in order for the U.S. to successfully move away from the fee-for-service model to the current value-based model, there has to be a healthcare IT infrastructure that allows organizations to link quality, value and effectiveness of medical interventions through a reputable compensation model.
“Our proposal renders the ability for payors to transfer PTOY tokens as incentives to providers that offer superior care that yield better patient care outcomes to be compensated proportionally to their effort in the resulting shared savings,” McFarlane said.
In another milestone signaling Patientory’s advancement, the company was awarded the top prize at the Southeastern Medical Device Association’s SEMDA2017 PitchRound competition.
Patientory emerged as this year’s most highly-investable company, fighting off tough competition from five other companies in the final rounds, scooping $10,000 of investment from SEMDA and a $2,500 MedTech Innovator Scholarship for its vision to deliver the patient-centered protocol supported by blockchain technology that will empower individuals to manage their health records in a format that offers true interoperability and security.
It will now advance to the 2017 MedTech Innovator Showcase in September where it will have a chance to compete for a $500,000 prize.
A Guiding Vision
In a brief interview, McFarlane spoke candidly about discovering the world of blockchain technology, her company’s startup trajectory, as well as future trends she sees in the horizon for blockchain health tech.
Tell us a little about your professional journey.
I've been in the healthcare industry for over 10 years and began my career doing research. Most recently, I’ve been heavily involved in the digital health startup space. From consulting with technology firms that focused on EMR [electronic medical record] implementation, to trying to resolve appealed claims with insurance companies, the common denominator for my work has centered around access to patient data.
What did you take away from these experiences?
With the healthcare industry moving away from volume-based payments to value-based payments, it made sense that easily accessing that data to better treat patients needed to be a priority rather than a choice. While some may argue that the blockchain isn't entirely new and that there’s other technologies that can do what blockchain does, the blockchain has most effectively garnered an ecosystem with established protocols to usher in the changes that needs to take place for an effective and efficient healthcare industry.
Describe for us what specific problems Patientory is seeking to solve though the use of blockchain technology?
Here’s what we currently know: Cyberattacks will cost hospitals more than $305 billion over the next five years with one in every 13 patients having experienced a compromise of their personal data by a hack. This is according to industry consultancy Accenture. In addition to security concerns, it should be noted that health expenditure in the U.S. is among the highest in the world, all with very little quality to show for it.
What is Patientory's main value proposition relative to these issues?
So our goal at Patientory is to solve the top three issues in healthcare, which are access to data, security and care quality. We aim to do this through the use of decentralized technology that can collect disparate data and make sense of it via machine learning to assist care providers in making informed patient diagnoses, all with the ability to coordinate care while decreasing the cost of care by a factor of a million.
Your recently announced the healthcare cryptotoken PTOY? Can you share a little about that?
PTOY tokens are the fuel of the Patientory platform. After signing up through our app, a patient is allotted space to store information for free on the Patientory network, a secure, HIPAA-compliant blockchain platform. PTOY will allow the patient to purchase extra storage space from nodes set up through a hospital system.
Doctors and their healthcare entities can use PTOY to secure private health information, rent computing power and access servers and data centers through a unique private infrastructure on the Ethereum blockchain. In addition, smart contracts can be executed in relation to the patient care payment cycle. Our ultimate aim through all of this is to reduce readmissions, make medical records more secure and reduce overall health IT administrative costs.
How will the care quality compensation model tied to the use of this token work?
PTOY tokens are the fuel of the Patientory platform. Essentially, blockchain is unique in relation to other technology solutions because of its ability to run and execute smart contracts on the system. Smart contracts have a myriad of use cases in regulating the continuum of care patient cycle. The most pressing need when considering care quality is meeting quality metrics for reimbursements.
So how exactly will these smart contracts be employed?
Smart contracts can be used to verify which of those metrics are satisfied for both providers and the patient population based on the medical information collected in the electronic medical record. Akin to putting money into a vending machine to make it vend, with blockchains you need to pay to run the contract. And with a blockchain such as Ethereum, you initiate a smart contract by paying it ether, Ethereum’s native currency. This is the digital equivalent of putting money into a vending machine.
Finally, what other trends do you believe will emerge with respect to blockchain technology's role in fueling the transition from a fee-for-service to value-based healthcare model?
Insurance payments involving value-based reimbursements is another step in that direction. From smart contracts regulating claims based on quality metrics and providing an immutable audit trail for issues like claims remittance, to pre-authorizations — all of this has promise for creating a more efficient, value-based revenue cycle for health care.