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Blockchain Innovations Set to Disrupt Healthcare

CryptoCurrencyWire Editorial Coverage: Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, boasts tremendous disruptive potential in a wide range of industries, including finance, infrastructure, supply chain management and even healthcare. SinglePoint, Inc. (SING) (SING Profile), a company with diverse interests and skills in the tech sector, has teamed up with ORHub, Inc. (ORHB) (ORHB Profile) to create a blockchain-based solution to improve the way hospitals collect and utilize operating room data to reduce supply chain costs, while IBM (IBM) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are exploring ways of using blockchain to more effectively share and audit medical data. With companies like HIVE Blockchain (HIVE:CC) developing broader infrastructure applications, the potential for blockchain to improve efficiency across businesses is accelerating. It’s an approach being pushed from inside the healthcare industry, with UnitedHealth Group (UNH) also demonstrating interest in blockchain capabilities.

Technology Driven Efficiencies

Data collection and sharing is a growing problem for medical providers. Patient data has to be preserved and shared with those who need to know, while keeping it secure for the sake of patient confidentiality. Operational data is vital to driving evidence-driven improvements, as well as managing supply chains in an increasingly complex system. The sheer volume of data, and the challenge of maintaining security while sharing it with vested partners, portends a huge need within the industry.

Many medical companies are now turning to blockchain technology as a solution. Though often associated with cryptocurrencies and financial interactions, blockchain has far wider applications. It provides a system for recording and sharing information without a need for a central organization controlling records. This reduces the risk of fraud or error and allows a complete audit trail, while improving the speed and efficiency with which information can be shared. In a medical context, it lets limits be set on who can see a patient’s data, while keeping that data easily accessible to those with a legitimate need for access. Records can be kept secure for auditing without slowing down data sharing. And the information needed to manage all parts of a business can be quickly gathered and exchanged.

Bringing Blockchain Expertise

One company delving into this application of blockchain is SinglePoint (SING). Established as a mobile technology provider, the company has grown into a diverse holding company with a portfolio of investments in cannabis, blockchain and related technologies. By using an acquisition-based growth strategy, SinglePoint has significantly increased the technology and expertise it can bring to bear on a blockchain project and other corporate endeavors.  This has led to a dramatic expansion in its services and a subsequent rise in its share price, from $0.01 to nearly $0.08 on volume of more than 3.5 million in a single year.

Data integration is central to the challenge facing healthcare providers. The scattered nature of medical records means that one of the biggest problems is connecting the dots to provide better care and improve efficiency. Fortunately, the integration of existing systems lies at the heart of SinglePoint’s work. Its acquisition of various blockchain companies has led to the deployment of integrated solutions in areas such as payment processing (http://nnw.fm/74SlQ). It is also providing technological solutions for supply chain management and delivery of goods, areas where the medical sector could benefit from improved data collection and process efficiency.

New Initiatives

SinglePoint recently announced its entry into the healthcare sector through a collaboration with ORHub, Inc (ORHB). In a letter of intent, the two companies defined their intention to create a blockchain services platform for healthcare applications. SinglePoint will design and develop blockchain-based solutions that can be added to ORHub’s existing software, enhancing the value of data collected in and around operating rooms. With an initial budget of up to $750,000 in development costs, this marks the beginning of SinglePoint’s work in bringing its blockchain expertise to hospitals.

Given the data management needs of the medical sector, SinglePoint expects this to be the first of many contracts for the company in blockchain development, in the healthcare sector and beyond.

“Having ORHub select SinglePoint as their solutions architect is fantastic,” SinglePoint President Wil Ralston stated in the news release (http://nnw.fm/mL5vl). “We are beyond excited to dig into this project and develop a truly industry-changing solution. With the commitment from ORHub to fund the project, we are in a strong position to design, develop and execute on the solution. As part of this collaboration and broader corporate initiatives in the blockchain market, we are aggressively establishing working relationships with key blockchain engineers.”

Healthy Patients in Healthy Systems

Data gathered at the point of care is vital to the health not just of patients but of hospitals and other healthcare providers. The past 20 years have seen huge efforts go into understanding healthcare processes, trying to trim the fat from a notoriously costly sector. While business analysts have been able to provide leaner systems, their work has always been reliant on data, and so held back by its limitations. Developments such as SinglePoint’s new blockchain data solution will provide the fuel for future improvements across the sector.

SinglePoint expects to unlock greater value from data captured across the operational system thanks to blockchain solutions. These will streamline medical records and improve their accuracy through dispersed record-keeping systems whose integrity is protected by blockchain systems. Better information sharing will improve the efficiency of inventory management and speed up billing cycles.

Strong Supporting Systems

Collaborations with other companies, like that with ORHub, are central to SinglePoint’s success. Working with firms such as AppSwarm (SWRM) and SMART Cannabis Corp. (SCNA) (http://nnw.fm/T11oZ) has allowed SinglePoint to combine its own tech expertise with that of others, developing streamlined solutions for payment and deliveries.

Steered by a leadership team with extensive experience in technology, engineering, marketing and raising capital, the company has grown and diversified from its initial holdings, increasing its presence within the tech sector. Following the completion of its recent annual audit, it uplisted to trading on the OTCQB Venture Market.

Combining Technology and Health Care

ORHub (ORHB) is an ideal partner for SinglePoint’s step into hospital support. An advanced surgical software provider, ORHub focuses on providing real-time data capture and analytics around surgery. The company’s surgical resource management (“SRM”) software is already transforming the way hospitals deal with operating room data. It captures information before, during and after surgery, providing integrated measures previously unavailable to doctors and support staff. Hospitals and medical device vendors can use any web-enabled device to create a graphic depiction of the operation. This is then translated into an intelligent report linking every detail of surgery, creating a dynamic source of information. This allows real-time, data-driven decisions to be made that improve both patient care and profits. Accurate data reduces costs, increases accountability and improves efficiency across the board.

“We consider ORHub to be the pioneer of surgical resource management innovation and our collaboration with SinglePoint to build out transformative healthcare blockchain solutions was a logical extension of our data platform.  Our vision is to change the face of surgical healthcare by dramatically lowering surgical costs, aligning physician performance with surgical efficiencies improving hospital economics and patient outcomes. The power of the intelligent data we already capture at the point of care has far reaching implications that can be better deployed through blockchain solutions to resolve the waste in time and resources that have contributed to the cost burden placed on hospitals today. We believe that blockchain inspired technology will set the stage for surgical data to evolve into a new paradigm based on a real-time shared infrastructure platform that is more transparent, more accurate, more timely, more cost effective and easy to use,” ORHub CEO Colt Melby stated in a press release announcing the partnership with SinglePoint.

Other companies are looking at applying blockchain to medical records. Among them is IBM (IBM), which is working with the FDA to explore how blockchain can ensure the smooth and secure exchange of medical data. The two-year project is looking at how blockchain can bring together data from a variety of sources, providing unique new insights for the benefit of public health. As well as supporting the accumulation of data, blockchain will allow it to be securely stored thanks to its nature as an unalterable distributed ledger. The IBM Blockchain in Healthcare blog (http://nnw.fm/O8jTF) provides greater detail on the technology’s application and potential in the industry.

As more capabilities of digital healthcare resources are uncovered, companies such as the UnitedHealth Group (UNH) are increasingly integrating technology into their customer solutions. The U.S.-based health insurer has launched technological solutions for such diverse aspects of healthcare as diabetes monitoring and bill payment. Indicating the company’s interest in blockchain, in April 2017 it posted a job opening for a full-time director of blockchain platforms and application development, a role within the company’s Optum Technology segment. The now-expired job description hinted at UnitedHealth’s expectation that blockchain could disrupt the healthcare industry: “We are about to disrupt healthcare by applying blockchain technologies. Here, innovation isn’t about another gadget, it’s about making healthcare data available wherever and whenever people need it, safely and reliably. There’s no room for error.”

Outside of healthcare, blockchain is developing at an ever-accelerating rate as innovators in numerous industries identify the ability of the technology to solve key industry problems. Companies like HIVE Blockchain (HIVE:CC) are attracting large investments to the sector, allowing the development of the infrastructure and technology to support blockchain. As the profits from this technology increase, so do investment and advances in the sector.

Building Better Healthcare

The secure, efficient and integrated use of data is a central challenge for health providers. Patient confidentiality means that data has to be treated with great sensitivity, and this has often been a barrier to sharing information. Yet such sharing can improve public health, individual patient care and the efficiency of healthcare providers.

Blockchain offers a way to square that circle. It is secure, improves the efficiency of data sharing, and creates an incorruptible audit trail. As blockchain technology improves and is integrated with other advances in medical technology, it could provide the solution the sector needs.

For more information on SinglePoint, visit SinglePoint (SING).

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