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VitalHub Brings Blockchain Technology to Mental Health

VitalHub has spent the beginning of 2018 making a dedicated leap into blockchain technology.

The Toronto-based healthcare technology provider announced on January 11, 2018, that it was entering the intersection of healthcare and blockchain technology. Previously, the company was focused solely on using mobile and web applications to provide Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions aimed at solving industry-wide problems. The company stated in its press release that blockchain healthcare adoption presented a market opportunity for the company, citing its “comprehensive domain expertise and understanding of the digital healthcare marketplace” along with a strong management team and 200-plus customers who would immediately benefit from blockchain solutions.

On January 30, 2018, the Canadian company furthered its blockchain-led agenda by announcing it was joining Aetna, Eli Lilly and PwC (among other companies) in adopting Hyperledger-based technologies. In the company press release, VitalHub explained that its reasoning for the move rested upon a shared commitment to helping the healthcare industry realize the full potential of open-source blockchain solutions. According to the announcement, both VitalHub and Hyperledger believe that blockchain healthcare solutions not only hold the promise of unifying disparate processes and increasing the volume and liquidity of data flow, but can also lead to improved patient experiences.

Along with the Hyperledger announcement, the company also stated that Vijit Coomara, its vice president of technology, would head up a dedicated blockchain development team.

It didn’t take long for the Coomara-helmed development team to bear results, as VitalHub introduced a blockchain-based interoperability solution on February 7, 2018. This solution, named “WellLinc,” aims to reduce the friction associated with patient records by using blockchain technology to enable an exchange of critical patient health data across a continuum of care. According to VitalHub CEO Dan Matlow, WellLinc is “creating a globally viable enterprise solution that can make electronic mental health records interoperable across the continuum of care using blockchain technologies.”

WellLinc intends to focus first on the area of mental health (one of VitalHub’s two main areas of domain expertise), citing market sizing opportunities and “serious gaps in mental health care delivery that result from inadequate access to available patient health information.”

If successful, WellLinc’s interoperability could save mental healthcare providers a lot of money. According to a World Health Organization news release from 2016, close to 10 percent of the world’s population is affected by depression and anxiety, and mental health disorders account for 30 percent of the global nonfatal disease burden. Given that VitalHub’s prior history is focused on the areas of mental health and long-term care, it seems likely that a successful adoption of WellLinc by mental healthcare providers may lead to its expansion to cover critical patient data in the field of long-term care as well.

While privacy concerns and worries of unwanted access to mental health records may be of concern to detractors, not having healthcare records on a distributed ledger makes them targets for ransomware attacks. According to a report by cyber defense firm Cryptonite, the number of reported major ransomware attacks on healthcare institutions increased by 89 percent from 2016 to 2017. Although it remains to be seen if VitalHub’s foray into blockchain healthcare solutions proves successful, the company has made blockchain-based healthcare a priority in 2018.

 

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