PokitDok, a healthcare API company, announced today it has teamed with Intel to offer a healthcare blockchain solution it’s calling ‘Dokchain.’ The partnership includes using Intel’s open source Hyperledger Sawtooth as the underlying ledger, and processing blockchain transaction requests at the chip level using Intel chips.
This partnership and the broader consortium PokitDok has created around Dokchain, could alter the entire industry, Ted Tanner, CTO and co-founder at PokitDok told TechCrunch, calling it a “singularity event in healthcare.”
The reason Tanner thinks this is so huge is that he says his company is the first one that has shown a working blockchain-healthcare solution, and he’s gotten not just Intel on board, but a broad consortium of more than 40 companies including Amazon, Capital One, Guardian and Ascension, among others.
While most people think of Bitcoin when they think of blockchain, it is at its heart a digital ledger that is designed to track any type of transaction in a secure and transparent fashion. Dokchain takes that concept and applies it to healthcare.
PokitDok believes it can run Dokchain on multiple ledger solutions. Last year, it ran a proof of concept on Ethereum’s solution, but it seems to be settling on the Intel’s Hyperledger Sawtooth ledger, which the company contributed to open source.
If you’re wondering why Intel is involved in such a project, Mike Reed, who heads up blockchain technology for the chip maker, says Intel uses these projects as a springboard for its chip business. “Intel has a long history of contributing to open source, and working with Linux and the hyperledger project allows us to work across multiple market segments,” he explained.
In addition to the open source software, as you might expect, Intel has also contributed to the broader blockchain ecosystem with a technology they call SGX. “One key piece is Intel SGX, a method [we’ve built into our chips] to improve the scalability, privacy and security of blockchains,” Reed said. He added that PokitDok has taken advantage of this capability.
Tanner says when you move the blockchain execution to the chip level, it provides an unprecedented level of security and that is essential for healthcare, where information exchange has been limited by Hipaa privacy requirements. Because all of the data is encrypted and private, you can pass along identifiable data without violating Hipaa. It also means you can buy a laptop off the shelf with an Intel chip in it and work on this system.
As for basic functionality of Dokchain, it provides identity management to validate that each party involved in the transaction is who they say they are, whether consumer or provider. Secondly, it can perform what it is known ‘autonomous auto-adjudication’.What that means in plain language is that once the parties have been validated, the transaction between them can be processed instantly in a machine to machine communication based on previously agreed upon smart contracts.
That’s right, instead of waiting 90-180 days for a claim to be processed, or spending hours on the phone trying to get your bill paid, it can in theory be processed on the spot. That has the potential to take a lot of cost (and aggravation) out of the system that is there simply because of the claims processing bureaucracy.
Finally, the blockchain can validate the supply chain so that, for example, when a doctor writes a prescription, it gets logged on the chain with transparent pricing for the consumer. It also has broad implications for inventory and order management of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. When combined, all three of these functions provide a level of proof that makes it much harder to introduce fraud into the system, while eliminating much of the friction in the current workflow and ensuring the privacy of patient data.
While PokitDok is a 6-year old startup with over $48 million in funding, Tanner believes his company can drive this technology, partly because of the consortium of powerful companies it’s built behind it, but also because it’s a first mover with an operating solution.
He likens the consortium to defining the MPEG standard back in the day, which gave us MP3 and MP4. It’s also defining a standard base of operations, and just as companies were free to build their own codecs on top of those MPEG standards, so will companies be building healthcare (and other industry-specific) solutions on top of the blockchain using the base technologies PokitDok and the consortium have helped define.
“This is furthering history and software execution in the most pristine sense, completely executing at the hardware level. This is the first step in a revolution. It’s ready to happen and this will happen quickly,” he said.