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Healthcare is the fourth least digitized industry in the United States and is also an enormous part of the economy. The healthcare industry is currently $8.4 trillion and will represent 20% of the GDP by 2028.
In life-and-death situations, hospitals and doctors are (understandably) resistant to changes in their workflows, which has resulted in maintaining outdated privacy practices.
Health records are also frequently hacked because they contain invaluable personal information about a patient: their name, date of birth, email address, home address, birthplace, credit card information and Social Security number. More than 44 million health records were compromised in 2019.
The Lumedic Exchange aims to bring the healthcare industry’s data protection practices in line with other industry standards to protect and empower patients. A new partnership between Lumedic, Mastercard, Providence and Cambia Health Solutions, the Lumedic exchange provides a common governance framework and platform that enables safe data sharing between healthcare providers, payers and technology partners. The goal of the exchange is to give patients control of who has access to their health data. The infrastructure builds on existing data transparency efforts from ToIP and W3C.
The core principle of the Lumedic Exchange is enabling “a patient-centric model of health information exchange,” as described on the program’s website. A recent press release describes how consumers can expect the exchange to work: “The Exchange will remove the need for a centralized vault of sensitive personal information. Instead, it shifts the ownership and control to the patient, who may grant permission for others to access sensitive, care-related information when it’s needed for specific uses.”
Use cases for the Lumedic Exchange include consumer-facing processes such as checking in to a hospital, receiving test results and sharing insurance information with a provider, as well as back-end infrastructure like patient matching. Individuals will be able to use the Lumedic Exchange to create a mobile wallet that stores their personal, medical and insurance information, which only they can consent to sharing, that is accessible on any device.
The opportunity to improve data privacy practices in healthcare brings unique challenges. While the Lumedic Exchange is explicitly aimed at giving patients “the same seamless, real-time experiences in their healthcare interactions that they have everywhere else,” according to Mike Nash, Lumedic’s CEO, the low margin-for-error nature of hospital operations makes innovation riskier in healthcare than in industries with cutting-edge software practices, like IT.
Beyond the life-altering consequences of decisions in the healthcare industry, “trust is critical in the relationship between a patient and their healthcare providers,” notes Chris Reid, executive vice president, Identity Solutions at Mastercard.
However, should the Lumedic Exchange prove its trustworthiness to hospitals, patients and insurers, it may help hospitals streamline an incredibly bureaucratic industry. As Eve Cunningham, chief medical officer of Providence Medical Group SWWA, notes, “The manual data exchange processes still prevalent in our day-to-day health care operations create administrative burden, increase costs, delay care, and ultimately contribute to caregiver burnout and patient dissatisfaction.” By improving data collection and sharing practices, the Lumedic Exchange could improve the internal operations of hospitals and allow providers to spend more time focusing on their patients’ health.
Cunningham is keenly aware of how the Lumedic Exchange’s patient-centric information exchange could reshape the industry: “As a healthcare provider, I can’t emphasize enough how important this work is to ensuring we are providing the highest quality care for our patients.”
With its large ambitions and mission-driven focus, the Lumedic Exchange aims to bring healthcare data practices to the 21st century, and the industry will be following its efforts closely over the next few years.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Quinn Barry is a Tech Innovation Fellow from Stanford University covering innovations in digital identity across finance and government.
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