The healthcare industry is experiencing something of a digital revolution at the moment, with innovative technology and equipment being unveiled in the medical community every day. People all over the world are in a race against time to combine their efforts and come up with the next big thing that helps to advance the future of medicine for good.
One thing you might not have expected to be involved in the digital revolution process, however, is blockchain.
Originally created for cryptocurrency, blockchain is an immutable, distributed ledger that can be used for storing transaction records. It allows for the sharing of data on a network that is cryptographically encrypted to enhance many things, including transparency, security and privacy.
While this may sound complicated, all it really means is that blockchain technology can be used by people in many different industries to track and share data in a more secure way.
In the healthcare industry particularly, this is extremely important, because blockchain technology is virtually impossible to hack into, giving patients a greater piece of mind when it comes to their data being stored digitally.
With that being said, we truly believe blockchain is the answer to many of the problems within the healthcare industry at the moment, and we are prepared to prove it!
How Blockchain Can Revolutionize The Healthcare Industry
It Creates An Integrated Health Records System
Blockchain can be used to create an integrated health records system that places the patient at the center of the system, giving them complete control over the private data that is being stored.
This is beneficial to patients, who can be reassured that their data is only being handled by those they have given permission to view it. It also restricts the possibility of data being used in research studies without the explicit and informed consent of the patient.
In addition to this, it also gives patients the ability to keep track of their medical background, which can be useful for patients who have a multitude of different conditions, or ones which worsen over time.
To give patients a piece of mind, blockchain can also be used to give people access to data when the patient themselves isn’t available, such as in an emergency, helping to fill in vital gaps about medical history.
Blockchain could also revolutionize the way healthcare professionals view hospital records, as current systems mean that different parts of an individual’s medical records are held at different hospitals and healthcare facilities the individual has visited.
By integrating medical records, medical professionals can gain a completely holistic view of a patient in a few minutes, instead of having to call around hospital’s for hours, a process that could take a considerably long time.
It Improves Data Security
Data security is a big problem facing healthcare organizations at the moment. In a time where most facilities are desperate to create online data storing solutions, many are failing to put in the necessary security measures to keep said data safe.
You might think healthcare data is completely useless, but this isn’t the case. In fact, your healthcare data is worth more than your credit card data on the black market!
In 2015 to 2016 alone, as many as 140 million patient records were hacked to gather varied amounts of private data from millions of people.
Implementing blockchain could completely eradicate this problem due to its immutable properties, meaning that it’s impossible to hack into data stored in a blockchain.
Just some things that could be achieved in the healthcare industry from blockchain technology includes:
- Certified and private messaging between medical devices like EEG machines and service providers
- Proof of ownership of medical records
- Proof of authenticity for anti-counterfeiting techniques
It Can Increase Drug Traceability
Perhaps one of the biggest ways blockchain can revolutionize the healthcare industry is by improving drug traceability in big pharma.
At the moment, managing an effective health supply chain comes with significant risks because a compromised supply chain can lead to grave consequences, especially to health outcomes and patient safety.
In fact, pharmaceutical companies currently lose approximately $200 billion to counterfeit drugs each year around the world. It’s thought that this could be reduced by around $43 billion annually if better transparency and visibility was implemented throughout the supply chain.
The good news is, blockchain could be the answer this industry has been looking for. With its point-by-point tracking abilities and proof of authenticity features, blockchain can ensure that drugs are genuine and track them throughout every step of the supply chain. This makes it harder for counterfeit drugs to slip through the gaps, and could improve patient outcomes and their overall health in the long run.
Helps Secure Clinical Trials
Historical mistreatment of clinical trial patients has led to extremely stringent rules being enforced for those who carry them out today. This is useful as it ensures the safety of patients is paramount, but it can make it more difficult for clinical trial companies to carry out these trials efficiently.
Using the blockchain data, patients can give clinical trial coordinators instant access to their medical data. This makes finding ideal candidates a lot less time consuming, and means that those who aren’t needed aren’t put through unnecessary tests or interviews where it is not needed.
It isn’t just making sure you have the people for a clinical trial that’s difficult, however. The medicine industry is extremely competitive, which has led to many cases of dishonesty between researchers, and even theft of intellectual property.
With blockchain, however, users can authenticate any document to show proof that it exists. This allows researchers to share statistics, test results, and quality reports without fear of intellectual property theft from other researchers who have not completed the trial themselves.
Easier Consent Management
Acquiring consent from patients in healthcare, and managing this information afterwards, is not currently an easy process. You need to gain a lot of permissions, opt-ins and informed consent from patients to make sure you’re staying compliant with how protected health information is handled. On top of this, organizations must also respect data and patient privacy.
This is where blockchain comes in. With this technology, healthcare organizations can monitor regulatory compliance by establishing a shared, unalterable record of all patient transactions that happen within their facility. This also helps with patient security and customer privacy, as only those with the right to view the content will be able to access the blockchain.
Using blockchain to manage acquired consent in healthcare creates an effortless way of gaining patient data for HIPAA compliance, marketing, and a plethora of other healthcare purposes.
Better Economic Management
Despite the healthcare industry being worth billions of dollars worldwide, many individual organizations have to face the reality that their business is haemorrhaging money every year.
One of the reasons for this is medical fraud, sometimes known as healthcare fraud, where people file dishonest healthcare claims in order to profit from it. With blockchain, this will be much harder, as it is immutable and highly secured, making it difficult for individuals to fraudulently input data.
Blockchain technology also has the ability to exclude pieces of data that are considered to be suspicious. This could make it easier for medical facilities and insurance companies to identify when fraudulent activities are taking place, leading to long-term savings and changes in the way we vet medical records.
Another reason for the poor economic management we’re seeing in healthcare at the moment is that so many things still require the expertise of a human being.
One of these money drainers lies in clinical trials and research studies, where a lot of time is spent checking out patients to find ideal candidates and exclude those who aren’t fit for the trial.
Using blockchain technology, research institutes could run audits that could scan for specific medical information that meets the requirements of their study. This information could then be transmitted back to them anonymously if the patient agreed to send their data over.
This will lead to better economic management as it ensures that more money and resources are available for use in other crucial areas of the healthcare industry, or the actual research studies themselves.
Credential Verifications For Physicians
As a healthcare provider, the last thing you want to do is hire someone to work in your organization who doesn’t have the right credentials for their job role. Unfortunately, with a process as long and arduous as the one we currently have in place, this happens far too often, potentially putting patient’s and other staff members at risk.
Blockchain could change this vetting process, making it far easier to authenticate credentials.
This solution has already been created, with an exchange platform being used to provide hospitals and other healthcare institutions with access to verified credentials information. It also provides the means for organizations to contribute verified information that’s sharable with other healthcare organizations.
Not only will this increase validity, but it will also save time, making the vetting and hiring process much more efficient than the one we’re currently dealing with.
As you can see, blockchain is a diverse piece of technology that could revolutionize the industry in many different ways.
It has the potential to impact the way the healthcare industry does everything from scrutinize drug supply chains, to making advancements in clinical trials, and it may even improve patient data in the long run!
There is definitely a long way to go for the healthcare industry yet, but it wouldn’t surprise us if blockchain was used by mainstream healthcare organizations at some point in the near future!