OSF HealthCare Collaborates to Test Blockchain-Based App to Reward Healthy Behaviors


PEORIA, Ill. and URBANA, Ill., May 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Research shows that nearly half of people with chronic conditions do not take their medications as prescribed, and failure to follow medical advice results in an estimate $100 billion in unnecessary healthcare costs.

A project to create a blockchain-based smartphone rewards app that would use technology that could help meet the requirements of privacy and consumer protection laws is led by OSF Innovation Senior Fellow and Clinical Informaticist Dr. Jonathan Handler. Research, through the Jump Arches program, will be supported by Innovation Engineer Tate Ralph from Jump Simulation, with Wencui Han and Andrew Millerassistant professors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Gies College of Business and the Grainer College of Engineering, respectively.

Blockchain is considered an easier and more secure way to transfer data. Ralph says that because users would be anonymous and the providers of the rewards would not be identified, the incentive program should not be considered an inducement to use a certain provider or medical service — something prohibited by federal law.

Ralph says consumers using the blockchain-based rewards app could be rewarded quickly for exercising, taking medication, or other healthy behaviors, unlike the kinds of programs insurance companies currently offer their customers. .

“You would actually be accepting currency directly; probably cryptocurrency in our case, but maybe some other digital transaction that would immediately give you that return. Other systems (insurance reward programs) will take a lot longer time and it will be harder to see directly the impact of what you do.”

A system called zero-knowledge proof, enabled by blockchain technology, will be tested to see if it can meet consumer privacy and compliance laws.

“It’s a way to prove that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do or to prove that you have a certain diagnosis, so that if we encourage you – even if we don’t know who you are – we can make sure that it’s a trustworthy system.”

Ralph says researchers with experience in digital interfaces for incentives will drive some of the work.

“I really think we have the experts in place, the team in place, to tackle this kind of problem. I think the average patient is going to interact with it like an app on their phone, where they can type in data and scroll through a market and see what they can be incentivized for and go from there.”

The Jump ARCHES research should also prove what other studies have shown – that rewards can motivate people to change their behavior…in this case, stick to medical recommendations between appointments.

“You only have a clinical touchpoint every two months or every semester, something like that, so you have less incentive to think about it until you have to start turning it on because you’re going come in (for the office) and you don’t want to be embarrassed, frankly,” Ralph observes. “So I think something like that, where you have a positive reason to do it, not just a negative reason, I think it can be really powerful in helping people get healthier.”

Ralph adds that future enhancements to the blockchain-based app could also use data from wearable devices or home monitors and could be applied to community health initiatives such as vaccinations and health screenings.

Blockchain rewards research is one of 11 research projects that share just over $700,000 through the Jump ARCHES research and development program.

Here are summaries of the full list of Jump ARCHES Prize projects for Spring 2022.

For more items with this story, including photos, video and audio, please visit the
OSF press room.

OSF Healthcare is an integrated healthcare system owned and operated by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, headquartered in Peoria, Ill.. OSF HealthCare employs nearly 24,000 mission partners at 150 sites, including 15 hospitals – 10 acute care, five critical access – with 2,089 licensed beds and two nursing colleges across Illinois and Michigan. The OSF HealthCare Physician Network employs more than 1,500 primary, specialty and advanced practice providers. OSF HealthCare, through OSF Home Care Services, operates an extensive network of home health and palliative care services. It also owns Pointcore, Inc., comprised of healthcare-related businesses; OSF HealthCare Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic arm; and OSF Ventures, which provides investment capital for promising healthcare innovation startups. More at osfhealthcare.org.

Jump Trading Simulation and Education Centerwhich is part of OSF Innovation, is a collaboration between University of Illinois Faculty of Medicine of Peoria and OSF HealthCare. Jump replicates a variety of patient care settings to ensure that both novice and seasoned clinicians can practice handling medical situations in a real environment. At six stories and 168,000 square feet, the center is one of the largest of its kind and provides space for conferences, anatomical training, virtual reality and innovation. For more information, visit www.jumpsimulation.org.

Partners of Jump ARCHES:

University of Illinois Peoria College of Medicine (UICOMP) trains 244 medical students and nearly 300 medical residents each year. The College of Medicine houses the Cancer Research Center, Outcomes Research Center, and collaborates on jump simulation. Learn more about UICOMP at peoria.medicine.uic.edu.

Health Systems Engineering Center (HCESC) offers clinical immersion and promotes collaboration between engineers and physicians. HCESC designs collaborative solutions to improve healthcare outcomes using their expertise in simulation technologies, smart health systems, data analytics, human factors and medical robotics. HCESC partners with Jump in this innovative Applied Research for Community Health Through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES) relationship. HCESC is a research center of the Grainger College of Engineering in University of Illinois. Learn more about HCESC at healtheng.illinois.edu/.

University of Illinois Grainger College of Engineering
is one of the top-ranked engineering programs in the world with students, faculty, and alumni setting the standard for excellence. The college is focused on driving the economy, reinventing engineering education, and spreading groundbreaking ideas to the world. They work to solve the world’s greatest challenges and look to the future to find ways to make the solutions a reality. Learn more about the College of Engineering at grainger.illinois.edu.

Contact: Colleen Reynolds| Media Relations Coordinator – OSF HealthCare | (309) 825-7255

SOURCE OSF Healthcare

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