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New Kids on the Blockchain

Cambia Health Solutions is part of an Innovation Force for Blockchain — and Cambia Grove the New Kids on the Block for Entrepreneurs

Under The Cambia Boughs with Aneesh Chopra

Maura Little has just finished delivering the 2018 Strategic Vision outlook for Cambia Grove  a synergistic, healthcare-focused, innovation hub and community workspace — and collaboration is front and center of the mission statement.

With a 9,000 square foot, open-door facility, located at 1800 9th Avenue in the heart of downtown Seattle, Cambia Grove has made a physical commitment to Seattle’s community of developers, bridging the gap between entrepreneurs and the traditional healthcare sector.

In her strategic outlook, Maura is addressing the innovation hub’s philosophical commitment to building a more person-centric and economically sustainable system to drive large-scale healthcare transformation.

By creating a physical and intellectual hub for healthcare innovation, Cambia is tacking the challenges of health care through a community approach. “We want to connect a network of changemakers by building a community who will engage, act and drive transformation,” states the executive director. “That means nurturing entrepreneurs by providing programs and resources that support innovation and by curating partnerships and amplifying our vision.”

The approach is both “high concept” and “bottom-up” community building:  Convene stakeholders around specific industry topics. Identify and research barriers preventing innovative efforts in the healthcare system. Catalyze solutions designed to transform the health care system. Whose to say that the keys of innovation in the way health care is deployed, distributed, or delivered will not open the door to greater opportunity than changing the way healthcare is negotiated or paid for

Maura Little, Executive Director, Cambia Grove

Maura began her journey in the healthcare sector in 2009 where she played a key role in communicating the federal Affordable Care Act to local stakeholders as a staff member for then Congressman Jay Inslee.

As the Washington State Director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, her perspective was greatly influenced by her work in patient advocacy.  Then, as Governor Inslee’s Life Science and Global Health Sector Lead, Maura led strategic initiatives to put our region back on the map—from recruiting the 17th Annual NIH SBIR/STTR Conference to Washington for the first time in conference history, to working with startups to connect them to vital resources that will help them grow and thrive in the Northwest. 

What distinguishes Cambia Health Solutions as a total health solutions company is its profound commitment to innovation. Blockchain technology is a prime example. Blockchain is often associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash and others. These are monetary instruments but they also keep an immutable record of transactions. Amazon recently announced a  partnership with technology consulting firm Luxoft Holding to offer blockchain solutions certified to run on Amazon Web Services (AWS).  One of the most promising blockchain applications is healthcare information.

Blockchain technology is like the Internet itself in that it has a built-in robustness. By storing blocks of information that are identical across its network, a blockchain cannot be controlled by any single entity and it is invulnerable to any single point of failure. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved.

How does it do it? By recording transactions not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.

Today’s healthcare parties typically operate in an environment of low trust and high verification.  The complex process of approvals and subsequent financial transactions can interfere in patient interactions, delay care and create frustration for all parties involved. A prime illustration of this in practice is the process of prior authorization, where providers must request and receive authorization from insurers prior to performing services where they seek reimbursement. 

At a recent Cambia Grove panel, Cambia Health Solution’s vice president of innovation, Max Janasik, explained how blockchain can materially improve prior authorization through the use of Smart contracts.

Vice president of innovation, Max Janasik.
“Smart contracts have emerged as one of the most useful applications of blockchain. They transform typical legal contracts that must be interpreted and debated by humans into executable code interpreted and executed by machines. Instead of a highly manual and delayed authorization process, smart contracts allow for automation and transparency as part of the natural transaction flow,” he explains.
“Smart contracts can redefine and automate not just prior authorization, but also automate standard reimbursements, reduce the need for extensive audits, and accelerate the calculation and payment of incentives for delivering positive patient outcomes. Patients could also check coverage before receiving services without ambiguous responses. Transactions are visible to all primary parties, but could also be accessible by trusted parties, like government entities, for both research and verification of payments through programs like Medicare,” states Janasik.
In 2015 alone, there were an estimated 253 data breaches among health care organizations totaling 112 million records, led by Anthem’s 78.8 million patient and employee records. Some estimates put the cost of recent breaches by cybercriminals at over $37 billion, a figure that is disputed, but even more conservative estimates assume approximately $30 billion has been spent cleaning up healthcare breaches since 2009, a number on par with the incentives paid to doctors and hospitals for investments in electronic health records that demonstrate meaningful use.
Director of Innovation, Nicole Cathcart

As Director of Innovation for Cambia Health Solutions, Nicole Cathcart explains how Blockchain solves the problem.

“Blockchain offers layers of security such as cryptography and digital signatures. These enable capabilities like requiring a doctor and patient to approve before releasing sensitive records. Distributed consensus enables ‘security by sharing,’ which spreads processing across nodes and reduces risk compared to single monolithic claims and EHR systems,” she advises.

Commercial entities are currently developing tools to further improve both the security of blockchains and new configurations that enable consortium and private blockchains.  Utilizing blockchain itself for personal data management and ownership tracking, combined with off-chain storage is another potential solution for privacy and security concerns, where a separate service can manage and encrypt data completely separate of a health-related chain. This further increases the privacy and security of data, where blockchains serve as “card catalogs” to direct and control the distribution of data.
According to Deloitte, the healthcare industry is planning the most aggressive deployments of blockchain, with 35 percent of health and life sciences planning to deploy this year.  Deloitte found that 28 percent of respondents across all industries said they’d already invested $5 million or more, while 10 percent have invested $10 million or more in blockchain.    

Dubbed Innovation Force, Cambia Health Solutions’ internal innovation program ranges from software and mobile applications to healthcare marketplaces, non-traditional healthcare delivery models, health insurance, life insurance, pharmacy benefit management, wellness, and overall consumer engagement. Innovation has become a core component of the company’s culture, and the dramatic increase in employee engagement has supercharged collaboration and transparency across the business.

If you haven’t discovered the new kids on the block at Cambia Grove, you owe it to yourself, your health and your future to drop in — and get down to work! [24×7]

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