Blockchain network-as-a-service platform scores $10 million from AMA-backed Health2047

Akiri is developing a networking platform it says will help healthcare organizations more easily share data using blockchain.
By Bill Siwicki
02:04 PM
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San Francisco-based startup Akiri on Wednesday launched a blockchain-based network-as-a-service platform for healthcare. It's fueled by $10 million in funding from Health2047, an innovation enterprise whose founding investor is the American Medical Association.

Starting with a secure, private, network-as-a-service, Akiri Switch, the technology will create a network of trust on which only subscribers can share data.

Akiri Switch is not a health information exchange, an extract-transform-load process nor an electronic health record, according to Akiri. Instead, it is an invitation-only, subscription-based, private network. Rather than store health information, it will be able to transmit data among healthcare organizations through a standardized system of codes.

[Also: The next big thing in pharmacy supply chain: Blockchain]

The platform will be a vendor-agnostic system, using software-defined network and secure routing protocol technology optimized for healthcare data, officials said. It employs blockchain technology to help securely transmit information through a standardized system of codes.

While there's plenty of hype around blockchain, many experts say the digital ledger technology promises a major advancement that has the potential to fundamentally change many industries, including healthcare.

Data, after all, is the lifeblood of healthcare today, with free exchange crucial to quality and efficiency. But how do healthcare organizations protect that patient information? When can they share it? Who gets to use it?

Akiri CEO Adriaan Ligtenberg said the Switch technology “verifies healthcare data sources and destinations, allowing trusted applications to be developed and validated for patients, physicians, providers, pharma, payers and other healthcare enterprises."

By facilitating the flow of healthcare transaction data in real time, Akiri Switch’s benefits extend beyond those offered by health information exchanges, extract-transform-load processes and electronic health records, said Ligtenberg.

"We must advance and embrace new technologies that have the potential to create truly meaningful market impact at the system level," said James Madara, MD, CEO of the American Medical Association. "The data liquidity problem that physicians and other healthcare stakeholders currently face needs to be solved because it’s one of the biggest barriers to improving the patient-physician relationship."

It’s early days yet, but the potential of blockchain may encourage more organizations to join the blockchain fold.

"As we approach $4 trillion in national healthcare expenses, most ideas are adding cost or nibbling around the edges of the existing cost structure," said Giles Ward, executive director, consortium, at Hashed Health, a consortium of healthcare companies focused on accelerating innovation using blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. "Blockchain is a once in a generation opportunity to cut up to a third out of the middle. Nothing else comes close to blockchain’s potential."

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com