Thursday, June 30, 2016

Is there room for healthcare in blockchain? (2)

THE BUSINESS BLOCKCHAIN: Promise, Practice and Application of the Next Internet Technology

Last month I was saying that business strategy à la Porter required a new perspective, the platform view. Beyond that, blockchain represents a potential disruption of current business and information and communication technologies as of today.
My suggestion is to have a look at the crucial book by Mougayar on The Business Blockchain. You'll get a clear understanding that a deep transformation is in process.
Some key concepts from the book:
  • How to think holistically about the blockchain as a meta technology, a business model disruptor, and legal/regulatory policies challenger.
  • The 10 properties exhibited by the blockchain (beyond its most popular one, as a distributed ledger)
  • Blockchains as a new Internet layer, comprised of the new breed of decentralized applications.
  • The unbundling of trust and how a new form of trust inserts itself between peer-to-peer relationships, and brings a new level of transparency, trust and truth.
  • The rise of New Intermediaries. Just as the Internet replaced some intermediaries, now the blockchain is replacing other intermediaries, while simultaneously creating new ones.
  • Industry cases in healthcare, energy and government, including an in-depth review of financial services.
  • Practical recommendations for implementing the blockchain within the enterprise.
  • The blockchain as the operating system that enables decentralization, and its technological, political and societal implications.
  • The birth of a crypto economy that creates its own wealth via new business models, and peer-to-peer transactional relationships between producers and consumers.
  • A new flow of value, with the blockchain acting as the digital leveler that moves value across a new variety of markets.
  • 47 blockchain predictions about a not-so-distant future, when blockchain technology permeates our world and creates new companies and new services.
Promising contributions to healthcare:
The theory is attractive: publish your medical record safely on the blockchain and be assured that you or an authorized person can access it anywhere in the world. That is what the government of Estonia has done—a good case of blockchain technology in healthcare. Using Guardtime’s large scale keyless data authentication, in combination with a distributed ledger, citizens carry their ID credentials which unlock access to their healthcare records in real-time. From that point forward, the blockchain ensures a clear chain of custody, and it keeps a register of anyone who touches these records, while ensuring that compliance process is maintained.
Other healthcare usages might include:
  • Using a combination of multisignature processes and QR codes, we can grant specific access of our medical record or parts of it, to authorized healthcare providers.
  • Sharing our patient data in the aggregate, while anonymizing it to ensure privacy is maintained. This is helpful in research, and for comparing similar cases against one another.
  • Recording and time-stamping delivery of medical procedures or events, in order to reduce insurance fraud, facilitate compliance and verification of services being rendered.
  • Recording the maintenance history of critical pieces of medical equipment, for example, an MRI scanner, providing a permanent audit trail.
  • Carrying a secure wallet with our full electronic medical record in it, or our stored DNA, and allowing its access, in case of emergency.
  • Verifying provenance on medications, to eliminate illegal drug manufacturing.
  • “CaseCoins:” originating specific altcoins that create a cryptocurrency market around solving a particular disease, such as FoldingCoin, a project where participants share their processing power to help cure a disease, and get rewarded with a token asset.

Definitely, this is a key book to understand blockchain and again, there is room for healthcare. Wether the promise will become a reality, it's uncertain today.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Is there room for healthcare in blockchain?

BLOCKCHAIN REVOLUTION: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World

Blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, the virtual currency, could be the new tool that could change the current state of health records and healthcare information. Up to now we have been discussing about interoperability between systems. What would happen if the citizen is the owner of the information and he has all data available everywhere anytime?. This is what certain initiatives try to define right now. Something like this initiated by the physician would be the data owned by the patient:

We are at the begining of a great transformation. I don't now if the appropriate word is revolution. Anyway, if you are interested in the topic you may check som details here.
However if you want a deep review of whats going on in 12 critical disruptions, read chapter 6 of the book "Blockchain revolution". You'll find there the potential impact on health:
In the health care sector, professionals use digitization to manage assets and medical records, keep inventory, and handle ordering and payments for all equipment and pharmaceuticals. Today, hospitals are full of smart devices that oversee these services, but few communicate with one another or take into account the importance of privacy protection and security in direct patient care. Blockchain-enabled IoT can use emerging applications to link these services. Applications in development include monitoring and disease management (e.g., smart pills, wearable devices to track vital signs and provide feedback) and improved quality control. Imagine an artificial hip or knee that monitors itself, sends anonymized performance data to the manufacturer for design improvements, and communicates with a patient’s physician, “Time to replace me.” Technicians will be unable to use specialized equipment if they haven’t taken prerequisite steps to ensure their reliability and accuracy. New smart drugs could track themselves in clinical trials and present evidence of their effectiveness and side effects without risk of modified results.
If you are interested in innovation and want to follow the next wave, the internet of value, then you need to read such book. Definitely, there is wide room for health in blockchain.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Clinicians' wisdom of crowds

The Wisdom of Crowds of Doctors: Their Average Predictions Outperform Their Individual Ones

The book on "Wisdom of crowds" became popular claiming that  the aggregation of information in groups achieved decisions that are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. Now in Medical Decision Making you'll find an article that applies such reasoning to clinicians. And it says:
Little research has been done on whether the average of clinicians making predictions is more accurate than the individual clinicians themselves or whether their average prediction compared favorably to statistical predictions. The purpose of the present study is to examine the predictive accuracy of the average of individual clinician predictions and to compare this average to the accuracies of individual clinicians and to a published statistical model.
And the four conclusions are:
First, it would appear that the averages of the clinicians perform better than clinicians individually. All the clinicians on their own performed with a concordance index of 0.628. However, averaging the predictions of just a pair of clinicians had better performance. Second, the performance tends to improve as more clinician predictions are averaged. Interestingly, at least in this study of a limited number of clinicians, although performance was seen to continually improve as clinicians were added, there was decreasing marginal return for increasing group sizes. Third, as the group size increased (see Figure 2), the performance of the averaged clinicians approached that of the best individual clinician (from Figure 1), suggesting that much larger clinician groups are needed for the performance of the average to be better than that of the best clinician. And fourth, even averaging all of the clinicians’ predictions was inferior to that of the statistical model.
The authors recognise their study limitations, however some insights are useful to take into account. Let's ponder on how many "second opinions" would be approppriate.

This Wednesday at Saló del Tinell in Barcelona, great concert by Capella de Ministrers on Ramon Llull,the last pilgrimage

Friday, June 3, 2016

What's health and wellbeing?

Empirical redefinition of comprehensive health and well-being in the older adults of the United States

Once again, we do need a comprehensive definition of what is health and wellbeing,  and the current issue of PNAS provides us with an interesting approach:
The dominant model of health is a disease-centered Medical Model (MM), which actively ignores many relevant domains. In contrast to the MM, we approach this issue through a Comprehensive Model (CM) of health consistent with the WHO definition, giving statistically equal consideration to multiple health domains, including medical, physical, psychological, functional, and sensory measures. We apply a data-driven latent class analysis (LCA) to model 54 specific health variables from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally representative sample of US community-dwelling older adults.
Although public health campaigns, such as “Choosing Wisely,” rightly emphasize the need to decrease unnecessary health interventions (52), they still accept the basic health conception of the MM as resting on organ system disease. Instead, the CM instantiates comorbidities and the equal importance of mental health, mobility, and sensory function in health and should inform policy redesign. For example, including assessments of sensory function, mental health, broken bones in middle age, and frailty in annual physician visits would enhance risk management. In addition to policies focused on reducing BMI, greater support for preventing loneliness among isolated older adults would be effective. In place of additional (expensive) new medicines for hypertension, helping older adults find social support through home care services or alternative living arrangements could be developed. In summary, taking a broad definition of health seriously and empirically identifying specific constellations of health and comorbidities in the US population provide a new way of assessing health and risk in older adults living in their homes and thereby, may ultimately inform health policy. 
And these are the results:
 The CM of health with six distinct health classes based on 54 health measures across six dimensions (listed in column 1). The column US population (US Pop.) reports the prevalence in 2005 of each disease or condition in the older US Pop. ages 57–85 y old (definitions and validation are in Fig. S1). Within each health class (columns), the prevalence of a given disease or condition indexes the likelihood that any member of the class has that particular disease [rows; n = 54 health measures ordered by prevalence within each health domain (column 2)] and shares similar constellations of disease and health.

We should reckon on something similar with our data, just to check if it fits with the final goal of measuring health and wellbeing. As you may imagine, there are many implications. If we agree on a comprehensive model of health, then we have to focus on how decisions and priorities should be made.

PS. The return of the big questions. JM Colomer opinion;:

The achievement of a human-made plan depends 1/4 on resources, such as money, education or physical strength; 1/4 on skill and decisions; and 1/2 on unpredictable circumstances, usually called luck. A student asked me how luck can be improved: well, I said, if you keep pursuing your goal with perseverance, the probabilities to get it increase (like if you keep playing the lottery, the probability to get the prize also increases)