Earlier this year Medgadget spoke with Coral Health about the company’s vision to create a more connected future in healthcare by leveraging blockchain technology. At the time, Coral Health COO Philip Parker commented that, “While EHRs have made record sharing possible, sharing has remained laborious and it wasn’t until the FHIR API standards that the costs of data sharing fell to the point where organizations like Apple started talking seriously about giving patients access to their medical records.” As we know now, Apple has indeed taken its first big step to allow connectivity between medical records and the Apple Health app, and now Coral Health is getting in on the action as well.
Implemented utilizing the SMART on FHIR approach (Substitutable Medical Apps, Reusable Technology, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), last week Coral Health announced the test launch of its Health Records app. As of this article, all testing invites have been claimed for iOS users, though some testing invites for Android users may still be available. Setting up and using the app purports seamless integration between the app and medical record locations, persistent connection that pull updates and triggers alerts when new data is available, and total control of encrypted data stored in a HIPAA-compliant manner on each user’s smartphone. Once using the app, patients are incentivized to collect, control, and share healthcare data with medical professionals, healthcare organizations, and researchers.
Previously, Coral Health also announced that it will make its platform available to the public and will begin selling tokens on September 28, 2018. Medgadget confirmed with Coral Health that the token sale will correspond with availability of the mobile app for all users, not only those receiving testing invites. “Our healthcare partners have validated our HIPAA-compliant approach to EHR integration, while our permissioned blockchain architecture ensures persistent storage of patient records, and our precleared utility token provides the necessary incentives to make that information accessible,” said Philip Parker in the announcement.
Responding to some additional Medgadget questions on the dual announcements, Philip Parker shared the following.
Mike Batista, Medgadget, : How does the recently announced Health Records app utilize Coral Health’s blockchain technology? What is the benefit of creating the app on [or utilizing] the blockchain?
Parker: We often get the question of, “why blockchain?”Coral Health believes that distributed ledger technology is particularly relevant for patient-centric designs. It’s critical that medical records be persistent, accessible, and immutable. All nodes sharing data must reach consensus about which events occurred first and ensure there are no missing or duplicate records. These are properties that distributed ledgers are particularly good at and which provide dramatic improvements to almost all healthcare systems currently in place.
Medgadget: Can you elaborate further on those three key properties that medical records require and blockchains provide?
Parker: First, permanent accessibility. Decentralized storage ensures that your medical records continue to be accessible and removes reliance on any particular entity (e.g., a large hospital) to either continue hosting that data or continue making that data accessible to you. This is critical in healthcare, where even short delays can be the difference between life and death.
Second, shared access. Everyone you share access with is able to read and write to the same database. This ensures your healthcare providers are able to appropriately coordinate your care, and eliminates the need to repeat the same tests and conversations whenever you see a new provider.
Third, immutable referents, Hash referents to the encrypted copies of your data can be stored across a wide number of computers, making it nearly impossible to change any aspect of your data because it would require changing the majority of those copies simultaneously. This means that the entities you share data with can be confident in its accuracy, providing a new level of trust.
Medgadget: We recently covered the launch of health record integration with Apple’s Health app. How is the Coral Health Records app positioning itself compared to this and other offerings which allow user’s medical data to be aggregated in one place?
Similarities to Apple Health:
- Connection: We both use FHIR standard APIs defined by the Argonaut Project.
- Authorization: We both use OAuth 2.0 so that users only have to authenticate once.
- Data types: We both support the most commonly used data types available with FHIR APIs.
Differences with Apple Health:
- Cross platform compatibility Android and iOS: We built out our own modern Android libraries using flutter.io so that our app works on both platforms.
- Decentralized approach: Unlike Apple’s approach where most records will end up being stored on iCloud, we store encrypted records in a distributed manner. This provides persistence and constant availability of patient data.
- Blockchain security: Referents to patients’ encrypted files are stored on the blockchain so that medical records can never be altered or tampered with.
- Sharing records: Patients can easily share records in a HIPAA-compliant manner. We will also support HIPAA-compliant encrypted messaging between patients and providers.
Medgadget: Is a token sale the same thing as an initial coin offering (ICO)? If not, why is a token sale as opposed to an ICO the right approach for Coral Health?
Parker: Yes, our token sale is similar to an ICO, however, it’s important to stress that the Coral Health token sale is very different from many of the sales people will be used to from the 2017 and early 2018 era. We’ve worked very closely with our local securities regulators to be pre-cleared as a utility token with functional product uses. This is quite different from most ICOs where companies just take money and promise to build a platform at a later date. Part of this process was designing our sale of tokens in a way that promotes use of the Coral Health tokens to fuel our ecosystem and provide the necessary incentives for data exchange in healthcare. As such, our sale of tokens will be ongoing rather than for a finite period.
Medgadget: Are tokens for both patients and providers? What will tokens be used for on the Coral Health platform?
Parker: Yes, tokens can be earned and used by both patients and healthcare providers. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies will spend tokens to access patient data (when patients opt to share it) for operations and research purposes. While storing, accessing, and sharing health data will always be free for patients using the app, patients will be able to use tokens to unlock features such as graphical health records visualization or receive additional services such as health tips, targeted promotions, or real-time eligibility checks for drugs or medical procedures. Note the eligibility check feature currently only supports hair transplant and laser hair removal eligibility for patients covered by BCBSMA, Aetna, and Excellus health plans, though this feature will be expanding rapidly.
Link: Coral Health…