This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Healthcare series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and healthcare.
In this interview we speak with John Bass, CEO of Hashed Health, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the healthcare business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind Hashed Health? Why and how did you begin?
JB: Hashed was born out of my experiences at two other healthcare technology startups. Both focused on using technology to solve complex multi-party network challenges in supply chain, registries, patient engagement and value-based care.
My experiences at these companies taught me that the delivery and payment of healthcare is a team sport. I came to understand the importance of collaboration and how technology can be used to facilitate concepts of shared value, which I feel is the future of healthcare. It became clear that today’s healthcare delivery systems are flawed at a foundational level. Healthcare value chains are working as designed, which is why healthcare costs are approaching 20% of gross domestic product. I believe value-based payments and other attempts to realize the “quadruple aim” (better outcomes, lower cost, improved patient experience, improved clinician experience) don’t scale well because of fundamental issues related to trust, transparency and incentive alignment.
In 2015, I took notice of what was happening in the Ethereum community and in the fintech space. I realized blockchain is purpose-built to solve issues of trust, transparency and incentive alignment. It was not hard to connect the potential of the technology to the business problems I’d been struggling with. So, in 2016, I founded Hashed Health, the first healthcare-focused blockchain company.
2. Please describe your use case and how Hashed Health uses blockchain:
JB: Because of our origins, Hashed Health started with a protocol and use case agnostic approach. We believe that the early meaningful work is B2B, so we focused on developing the B2B market with a number of enterprise partners on a number of enterprise solutions. This work has given us a front row seat in terms of real-world design patterns and networks.
The majority of our work falls in two areas: asset exchanges and multi-party business process automation.
Perhaps the project we are most known for is the Professional Credentials Exchange (“ProCredEx” or “PCX”), which is an asset exchange for verified credentials data.
ProCredEx represents a new business model for credentialing physicians and other practitioners. It’s a great example of how a distributed ledger can solve a trust problem (primary source verified data) while enabling an incredible new business model (a data market) that is dramatically different and better than the way credentialing is performed today. Using this construct, any entity who has gone through the process of curating this data can offer those primary source verified data artifacts to those who need them. It’s a new, more effective way of solving an old, painful problem in healthcare.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
JB: Like most projects in the healthcare blockchain space, Professional Credentials Exchange is not yet operating at scale. This solution has the potential to reduce a lot of cost in the system while improving access for patients and decreasing headaches for physicians.
Today’s issue is primarily a revenue cycle challenge. Credentialing takes months of manual processes in today’s world. Generally speaking, during that time physicians and practitioners are unable to treat patients or be paid for that treatment, resulting in lost revenue of up to $9000 per day according to recent studies. The headaches are even worse for telemedicine programs and the military.
Over time we see it as a gateway to a range of future physician identity concepts, but we feel it is important to solve today’s issues first and use an iterative approach towards the future of practitioner identity management. We believe we can create a lot of value for the buyers and sellers of these non-sensitive assets (no protected health information, etc) and we already have a sophisticated network of name brand insurance companies, health systems, and data partners committed to the project. These companies have tremendous upside through the first mover advantages of the network. The added bonus is they get to learn about the realities of a jointly operated system in real time.
4. What other blockchain use cases in healthcare are you excited about?
JB: I am most excited about two design patterns: asset exchanges and multi-party business model innovation. There are a number of use cases that we are actively exploring in each of these areas.
For new asset exchanges, we are taking the pattern of ProCredEx and applying it to other use case areas in supply chain, data management, and rational markets. For business process automation, we are excited about the response we are receiving in our efforts to improve the adjudication of contracts, care delivery workflows, and clinical trials. As we continue to iterate on these solutions, Hashed Health improves its ability to create tools that enable their meaningful use.
Because of my background, I have a personal affinity for value-based care initiatives. I fully support a transition from volume-based care to value-based care, but the underlying infrastructure limits our ability to scale these multi-party efforts and align the teams delivering coordinated care to patients. The trust and transparency issues result in tremendous administrative burden and failures in providing care teams with the operational intelligence they need to take on risk. We’ve been at it for over ten years now and I believe we need to question the wisdom of continuing to build value-based solutions atop infrastructure that cares only about transactions. Our team at Hashed is working on this problem.
Outside of Hashed, I am probably most intrigued by the MELLODDY federated learning project out of Europe. In this project, fiercely competitive pharma companies are running AI on their chemical libraries and collaborating around the results for improved drug discovery.
That’s the cool thing not many people recognize… These consortia are bringing together big competitive companies to solve big problems that none can solve alone. I don’t think anything like this has ever happened before.
5. Where will Hashed Health be in 5 years?
JB: In five years, I believe we will have at least five use cases that will have proven their value in production across a network of brand-name enterprises. I don’t think our website or any of our marketing language will mention blockchain. I think you’ll see us applying blockchain, derivatives of blockchain, and hybrid cloud solutions to problems where the business characteristics will drive our technical solution and our business model innovation. In five years, I think we will be learning a lot about the relationship between blockchain and AI, ML, IoT, and precision medicine. In five years, I think we will begin to understand how blockchain can begin to empower the patient. I think that’s when the real disruption can begin.