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Anushka Patchava, Aetna International

We spoke with Anushka Patchava, UN (CEFACT) Expert Advisor in AI and Blockchain (Healthcare) and Population Health at Aetna International, before she takes the stage at Blockchain for Business Summit in London this June.

Which use cases for blockchain in healthcare have you explored so far?

For providers - blockchain for healthcare data. For example, leapfrogging the traditional HIE systems straight to blockchain provides significant advantages to the health system. A blockchain based HIE system not only acts as a data integrator, providing physicians access to multi-source patient centered data, but also serves as a data sharing platform – mitigating against privacy concerns, driving data ownerships and rewarding those who share for the greater good of population health.

On the payer side, smart contracts can be used in several processes within healthcare including billing and insurance which helps in automating the process and reducing the costs (through reduction of fraud, waste and abuse).

More personally, I have an avid interest in blockchain perpetuating healthcare analytics and the commoditisation of data. The opportunities both these avenues offer is significant, in terms of improving integration across health and social care boundaries., reducing cost of care (e.g. through targeted prevention) and delivering positive patient outcomes.

What will blockchain will be most and least useful for in healthcare?

Most useful for: Data exchange and integration of data - Blockchain-enabled decentralization promises to minimize the problem of vendor lock-in that has plagued the healthcare industry. Furthermore, blockchain helps drive the agenda of personalisation in medical care. Several companies are exploring how particular modalities of data such as genomics and imaging, can inform personalisation strategies and targeted interventions – delivering better value.

Least useful for: This is difficult. But perhaps, given the scaleability challenges we are seeing with blockchain– it’s least useful for high speed transactions perhaps.

Will 2019 be the year of blockchain? 

In healthcare – I don’t believe so. It is far too early, on the adoption curve we are still in the Innovators phase, the upward slope is yet to come.

In healthcare, technology is often synonymous with high cost – and in an environment where health costs are ever escalating, and provision of care is not improving at the same pace, commissioners have different priorities. A new healthcare solution like blockchain won’t be easily invested in or adopted.

It is up to us as experts to run pilots and deliver use cases whereby the value of the solution we propose can be clearly demonstrated."

What are you most looking forward to at the event?

Collaboration. To succeed in such a fast-moving field, we need cross-sector pollination of ideas alongside banks of use cases to convince investors, payers, providers and patients alike that this new technology – blockchain – is worth everything it says it is. A conference such as this amalgamates all the key specialists and sector verticals together in one space. It is now up to us to consciously collaborate – which is critical to the success of blockchain in each and every one of our industries.