Blockchain technology impacts various industries like finance, e-commerce, real estate due to the many powerful applications it has. However, blockchain in healthcare is one area where it will be particularly useful in the years to come.
For those who are unfamiliar, blockchain is a growing list of records that are called blocks. These blocks link together, and each one contains a cryptographic hash of the previous one, along with transaction data and a timestamp. The reason that blockchain is so useful is that the technology is resistant to data modification.
Why blockchain in healthcare can benefit the industry
Blockchain can get rid of the main healthcare risks and concerns, as it can provide safety and security for confidential patient data and payment transactions transferred between entities, such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices.
According to a study conducted by IBM, around 16% of healthcare executives intend to implement blockchain technology in healthcare into some aspect of their business transactions this year. In 2020, that number is going to jump to 56%. You should have these figures in mind if you own or operate a company that deals with the medical field. The application of blockchain in healthcare doesn’t seem to be a fad. Quite the contrary: every sign points to its proliferation in the coming year and beyond.
Let’s take a few moments and examine four of the most impactful examples of how blockchain is changing healthcare today. Through these examples, you should get some idea of just how useful this technology is going to be in the future and the applications that we’re seeing for it already.
Secure Healthcare Setups and Data Protection
So, what is blockchain in healthcare?
Look no further than this example for an answer to that question. The current healthcare system and organizations tend to operate through a single, centralized database. It is managed by one entity. With this approach, the point of vulnerability can also be a single point. Hackers or anti-social elements can attack the system. If they do so, they can access sensitive data and put the patients as well as the organization in jeopardy.
Blockchain for healthcare can be utilized to prevent this sort of vulnerability. A sizable organization with multiple independent actors might have different levels of access to a blockchain ledger. The embedding of encryption within the blocks can save organizations from external threats. If a blockchain network is implemented correctly within the computer network of a healthcare company, it would prevent random attacks, as well as other issues like data corruption or hardware failure.
Besides, blockchain technologies can protect not only the patient’s data but study and research data. As one of the other blockchain use cases for medicine related to secure data transfer applies to medical study and research. This technology can also connect seemingly disparate study data that can be missed or changed accidentally during the researcher’s collaboration that results in more trustworthy medical research results.
Another appealing benefit of blockchain applications in healthcare is the use of cryptocurrencies as payment in place of cash or fiat money. Cash medical practices still exist today. However, the healthcare costs associated with them are sometimes only vaguely defined. An estimated 5–10% of cases are fraudulent, and the most common scams involve the billing of unperformed services. In the U.S. alone, total fraud cases totaled $30 million in the year 2016.
When blockchain development is applied in this area, fraud becomes almost impossible. Bill-processing automation removes third parties from the chain and decreases overall administrative costs. Also, when larger institutions adopt payment processing through cryptocurrencies, a seismic shift takes place. Every penny that is paid to Medicare can be tracked, ensuring that no fraud enters into the process.
Blockchain in medical industry circles means that fraud can be almost eradicated if it is embraced on a worldwide scale. You can take advantage of this technology for your business by implementing blockchain development in the apps they’re designing for their healthcare clients.
Prevention of Counterfeit Drugs and Medical Devices
Blockchain use cases in healthcare are also exemplified by the following. The problem of drug counterfeiting leads to losses of approximately $200 million every year under the research of the OECD. That number can be diminished dramatically if a system with accurate tracking features is put into place in the supply chain.
All blockchain in medicine transactions are immutable and timestamped. It follows that if you use blockchain, fraudulent drugs and drug transactions become easy to identify and stop. Blockchain for drug traceability is another one of its uses. Inventory can be managed and the life cycles of the drugs can be closely monitored to ensure their efficacy.
Accessibility of Electronic Health Records through Blockchain
Despite security regulations, patient data cannot always be restricted in a satisfactory manner. Healthcare is a deeply complex system involving many entities. A patient is often required to share their data and medical records across this vast and fluctuating network.
Patients must share health-related information with their primary doctor, as well as specialists and other medical providers. This is the case regardless of whether they are going to physical therapy, require a hospital stay, are buying medication, etc.
Additionally, the increase in the number of patients has resulted in massive data management by healthcare providers. This ever-growing amount of data leads to difficulty in keeping track of patient information within hospitals, clinics, and other treatment facilities.
Using blockchain means this data-centric system instantly becomes more secure. A blockchain setup creates a hash for individual patient health information blocks. This sort of collective system amounts to an ID of sorts for each patient.
A blockchain system would even allow those who are seeking medical treatment to reveal they are necessary data to third parties while keeping their identities undisclosed. The time limit and access permissions for data-sharing with third parties could be entirely controlled by the patients. This means peace of mind for anyone who ever has to share their medical history within this massive network.
The benefits of blockchain in healthcare seem to be far more than financial. If used properly, this technology will allow people to feel genuinely confident about the sharing of their confidential information between multiple medical entities.
Thus, just observing these few blockchains uses cases in healthcare you can see that it can benefit as patients and healthcare providers alike. Keep in mind these new opportunities with blockchain technologies for your medical practice that can make it fully secure, safe and prevent any possible data breaches and make your patients trust you. Hence, investments in healthcare solutions development using blockchain can be really profitable for any medical provider.