A Link to a Better Marketplace?
By Kathy Hardy
Vol. 20 No. 1 P. 16
Blockchain has the potential to connect digital imaging players more efficiently and securely than ever before, but can it overcome its limitations?
“A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.”
This quote, by American philosopher William James, could be applied to the type of network necessary to successfully navigate the diagnostic imaging process. From referring physicians placing exam orders to radiology reporting, each step is a vital part of the process. What’s driving the introduction of a relatively new technology called blockchain to radiology is the need to connect all participants in the diagnostic digital imaging process. In addition to more expedited processes, blockchain brings with it expectations that this technology will build new business opportunities for radiologists, as well as streamline access to imaging providers.
Blockchain, famous for its use with Bitcoin, is a technology that developers say could irreversibly link the data and information that connects radiologists with referring physicians. Described as a tool in creating a marketplace—or an ecosystem—for radiology, blockchain supports the development of an image management network that allows secure access by referring physicians, radiologists, treatment team members, and, eventually, even patients and their families. Blockchain, and its recorded attributes, incorporates a verification aspect that ensures stability of the network. Radiologists and radiology practices are credentialed and all transactions are validated and cannot be changed.
“The ultimate goal of the platform is to build a marketplace for radiology,” says Michael Averbach, CEO and cofounder of Medical Diagnostic Web (MDW). “Using a blockchain platform makes the process transparent and fair to everyone involved. There’s no taking advantage of any imaging facility or radiologist in the process. It’s a marketplace for the people, by the people.”
MDW introduced the first decentralized blockchain platform connecting health care facilities, radiologists, and AI companies. The platform is currently in a “closed beta” status, but Averbach says results so far are positive.
“This isn’t just a concept,” he says. “This is a working platform today. We have enough users on the platform now to be able to see a fast turnaround time from when the exam is done to when the radiologist provides a report and subsequently receives payment for services rendered.”