Estonia Should Focus on Technical Innovations for Medical Systems – Aleksandr Kormiltsyn, Visiting Lecturer at TalTech University
Blockchain will enable privacy in the healthcare industry and allow patients to control their own medical data, believes Aleksandr Kormiltsyn, Visiting Lecturer at TalTech University.
In the interview to the M-Health Congress Tallinn, the expert talked about blockchain in healthcare sphere, main problems in the medical industry and development of eHealth in Estonia.
Aleksandr Kormiltsyn is the Senior Software Engineer in AFS IT Services Estonia OÜ and an expert in the eHealth sphere with 10 years of experience. He is the researcher of personalized integrated healthcare based on blockchain technology.
Interviewer: M-Health Congress Tallinn (M-HCT).
Speaker: Aleksandr Kormiltsyn (AK).
M-HCT: What are the main problems in healthcare systems today, in your opinion?
AK: The main problems in healthcare systems are related to the low availability of the healthcare expertise of specialists. One reason is an economic problem: most of the people and organizations cannot afford the services of first-rate professionals. Another reason is the rapid growth of evidence-based medical knowledge, where a new research paper is published, on average, every forty one seconds.
Additionally, there are problems with interoperability in healthcare systems which results in high costs of medical services, unnecessary duplicate examinations in different hospitals and medical data heterogeneity.
Another problem is that most of the healthcare systems are healthcare-provider based and not patient-centric. Nowadays, there are many IT solutions such as IoT, web and mobile applications and fitness tracking apps that collect data from the patient during his daily life. However, this data is still not often used by healthcare professionals, but it can help doctors and improve their understanding of the health context of the patient.
M-HCT: How do you think blockchain can help eHealth? What benefits will the decentralized technology provide to the medical industry?
AK: First of all, blockchain technology has the potential to solve interoperability issues by providing patient-identification mechanisms. Blockchain can fundamentally change the healthcare system from centralized and hospital-based to decentralized and patient-centric.
In pharmacy, blockchain can be used to prevent medication counterfeiting, which is a huge problem. Another benefit is that blockchain enables privacy and patient control over their own medical data. Smart contracts can incentivize for good behaviour via a reward mechanism. Furthermore, smart contracts can simplify knowledge sharing and reduce diagnosis errors.
M-HCT: Which examples of personal health records based on blockchain exist today?
AK: There are different blockchain solutions for medical sphere today. For example, the platform BurstIQ helps healthcare companies safely and securely manage massive amounts of patient data.
Then, Factom creates products that help the healthcare industry securely store digital records on the company’s blockchain platform which is accessible only to hospitals and healthcare administrators.
In Medicalchain blockchain maintains the integrity of health records while establishing a single point of truth. Doctors, hospitals and laboratories can all request patient information that has a record of origin and protects the patient’s identity from outside sources.
Also, Coral Health Research & Discovery uses blockchain to accelerate the care process, automate administrative processes and improve health outcomes. The company connects doctors, scientists, lab technicians and public health authorities quicker than ever with blockchain.
Then, for example, SimplyVital Health and Patientory also help to store medical information on blockchain.
Moreover, there is a platform Robomed which combines AI and blockchain to offer patients a single point of care. The company deploys chatbots, wearable diagnostic tools and telemedicine sessions to gather patient information and share it with the patient’s medical team.
M-HCT: Why does the healthcare industry need multi-agent systems?
AK: Healthcare systems are sociotechnical systems, and healthcare processes are cross-organizational processes. Multi-agent systems support an unlimited number of healthcare processes, smart contracts are used by both human and non-human agents to enable trust and transparency while sharing personal health records (PHR) that wearable IoT devices record.
Furthermore, we have the option to combine multi-agent systems with blockchain technology. That way, we achieve the required scalability and performance for highly decentralized and asynchronously operating healthcare procedures.
M-HCT: Estonia is known to be a country with a high quality of healthcare systems. How are innovative technologies used in Estonian medical sphere?
AK: Guardtime is helping healthcare companies and governments implement blockchain into their cybersecurity methods. The company was vital in helping to implement blockchain in Estonia’s healthcare systems. Also, blockchain is used to monitor access to medical records in Estonian central eHealth system.
M-HCT: In your opinion, which strategies should Estonia follow to develop healthcare digital systems better in the future?
AK: Estonia should consider future medical systems in a complex view and focus on legal and social aspects and technical innovations. Healthcare services should be more patient-oriented and patients should own their medical data. A patient can choose the healthcare provider and also can have private insurance depending on the services that are more suitable for him.
In this way, we can bring market competition for private innovative companies and offer patients the best service options available for each case. At the same time, hospitals need to accept and process the patient’s data. Still, according to their expertise, hospitals regulate the requirements and evaluate the quality of patients’ PHR data.
M-HCT: What will be the focus of your speech at the M-Health Congress Tallinn?
AK: The focus of my speech is our current research in the scope of a PhD project with Alex Norta. The speech describes healthcare problems, the importance of PHR usage in a combination with electronic health records (EHR) that hospitals store. Also, we focus on the patient’s role in healthcare processes. The presentation describes a theoretical approach to building patient-centric systems.
Aleksandr Kormiltsyn will be a speaker at the M-Health Congress Tallinn where he will deliver the presentation “A systematic approach to designing an integrated healthcare multi-agent system based on blockchain technology with smart contracts.”
Learn more about healthcare systems from the expert at the conference!