How Blockchain Can Streamline the Dental Industry
- Mar 3, 2021
- Erick Cutler
By now you’ve likely heard about blockchain technology, but you might be unsure of how it is being used and by whom. You may also be wondering what blockchain and dentistry have in common.
As the business world continues to evolve though internet-powered technology, it has found new ways to operate, and that includes the adoption of blockchain. Think of a blockchain as a continuously growing list of records—a record of transactions like the traditional ledger, but quite different in its capabilities. The difference is that the blockchain ledger, which is continually updating, is available to others on a peer-to-peer level, or network.
Dentacoin: Secure Access in Real Time
The healthcare industry is embracing blockchain as a way to exchange secure patient data. Drug companies, claims and billing, and patient medical records can all tap into blockchain technology as a way to update information in real time among a shared network.
In early 2017, dentistry received its first blockchain solution in the form of Dentacoin, which uses blockchain-based solutions for secure transactions among market participants, and between patients and dentists.
Here’s how it works: Patients pays a small monthly fee to Dentacoin, via a “smart contract,” in exchange for ongoing treatment from a participating dentist. The dentist receives payments in the form of ongoing basic income. The patients are incentivized to take good care of their teeth, with tokens they can receive by using an aftercare Dentacoin app. The platform, which is being used to share market research and patient feedback, seeks to become a dental insurance model.
“While dental providers continue to file more insurance claims electronically and submit claims electronically, adoption of electronic clinical processes by dental providers remains low, even though eliminating costly manual transactions represents huge potential cost savings.” – The Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH)
In its 2018 Index, “A Report of Health Care Industry Adoption of Electronic Business Transactions and Cost Savings,” the CAQH acknowledges that the dental industry trails the medical industry overall, but has made substantial progress.
Certainly, the application of blockchain in dentistry offers benefits to the patient and provider. A decentralized system via blockchain can make all patient data, including treatment history and payments, available in real time. This gives patients instant access to their own information, and negates the need to fill in forms for every visit. Dentists, too, benefit from greater practice efficiencies.
Whether through Dentacoin or future cryptocurrencies, dentists can save money by not relying on staff to keep physical records. And since blockchain is unalterable, there will be a great decrease in false claims being filed.
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Erick Cutler is a Partner in the Private Client Services Group, with nearly 25 years of public accounting experience including health care and the real estate industry.
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