One of the biggest buzzwords being thrown around the field of medical technology is “blockchain.” This is for good reason. Simply put, blockchain holds the potential to revolutionize healthcare. With its full deployment, patients can truly focuses on at the center of all operations. Which in turn will also be entirely overhauled with better security, privacy and accessibility. But how exactly does blockchain enable all this? Let’s talk about the benefits and the future of Blockchain technology in Healthcare.
What Is Blockchain?
First, let’s dive deeper into what blockchain really is.
A blockchain is a distributed system that generates and stores data records. It maintains a digital ledger of connected “blocks” of information that represent how data is shared, changed or accessed on its peer-to-peer network.
All devices on the same blockchain system will generate identical blocks when a connected device is involved in any kind of transaction. If one computer’s data is accessed, changed, shared or otherwise manipulated in any way, a block is generated to locally record that information on every device. This way, changes to data can be easily identified. It’s a decentralized approach that allows data parity to be achieved by comparing every connected device’s blocks.
On top of simply recording and comparing data is the utilization of “hashing.” Hashing gives every block a unique identifier that changes based on its contents. If a block’s data were to change, so would its hash.
This is important because blocks are stored together in chronological order and also directly reference the preceding block’s hash. Therefore, trying to change the data of one block would immediately cause a succeeding block to identify a hash change. It is for this reason that connected blocks form a “chain” securely wrought in an immutable, reliable, decentralized manner.
Accurate, secure and a catalyst for utmost accountability, blockchain makes it almost impossible to mimic, manipulate or otherwise falsify data. This opens the doors to many possibilities — chief of all being the exchange, storage and access of data between connected parties.
Blockchain technology in healthcare: Challenges and opportunities
A significant challenge for the healthcare industry is proper management and safe retrieval of the massive amount of personal health data generates by the normal activities of conducting business and providing services. Healthcare monitoring technologies, including wearable, also generate massive amounts of personal health data. Health data is mostly inaccessible, non-standardized across systems, and challenging to understand, use, and share. They are pulled from diverse sources and are stored in centralized IT systems that make managing and sharing a challenging task. Requesting, sending, receiving, and compiling patient data are time-consuming and require excessive resources. Proper management and safe retrieval of these data enable healthcare systems to create holistic views of patients, improve the quality of care and treatments, enhance communication, and improve health outcomes.
Blockchain technology defined
Blockchain technology is one of the most important innovations of this century. It not only provides operational and regulatory verification efficiencies; it also enhances tractability and visibility throughout the supply chain of many industries. Distributed ledger technology (DLT), known as ‘blockchain’, has captured the imaginations and wallets of the financial services institutions. A blockchain is a decentralized, continuously growing list of records. They are ‘blocks’, that linked together in the chain. It will happen through a process called mining. This process turns pending transactions into a mathematical puzzle. Miners (people) solve the puzzle using computer systems. They produce hash. Hash is a sequence of letters and numbers unique to the block. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. It also contains information from all previous blocks and transactions to create a network or chain.
If the data inside any one of the blocks changes, it sets up a chain reaction that could freeze up the whole blockchain. Once the blockchain processes the information, every computer in the network locks in at the same time, creating a permanent, immutable digital record. Each blockchain system determines who can add new blocks to the chain and how the procedure is done. The unique advantages of blockchain are that it allows sharing data and transactions on an immutable P2P network to enhance transparency, security, and… . Blockchain has been largely used for cryptocurrency and financial transactions. However, other industries, including entertainment, manufacturing, and healthcare, are adopting blockchain technology to leverage its benefits of enhanced security as well as privacy.
Critical challenges and blockchain solutions
The U.S. health care industry is the world’s largest and absorbs more than $1.7 trillion per year. Today, the average annual cost of healthcare per person in America is $10,739, which is more than residents of any other country. The amount spent on healthcare is nearly 18 percent of the Growth Domestic Product (GDP). It projected that with no change, in 2027, the healthcare industry will consume nearly 20 percent of the U.S. GDP. The healthcare industry is implementing strategies and tactics to address the growth of medical and pharmaceutical costs and improve the quality of care.
Strategic values and implementation challenges
Blockchain technology is new and has not been adopted by all industries. There are not many successful blockchain technology models out there. This creates uncertain situations and impacts the overall decision to select blockchain technology for future growth. However, blockchain technology can evaluate and judge based on its own merit of being a foundational technology and meeting innovation challenges, as discussed in detail in the following sections.
Blockchain technology in Healthcare: How Blockchain Is Affecting the Medical Industry
Being open and highly secure means blockchain can apply to the medical industry in a variety of ways, leading to immensely reduced costs and new ways for patients to access healthcare.
Combined with the compounding nature of data and innovation, future proofing technologies can further apply to foster an era of growth and innovation.
Already, pioneering companies are laying the foundations for a blockchain revolution. Here’s how they’re transforming the medical industry.
The medical industry has suffered greatly from the inability to securely share and access sensitive patient data. Blockchain, however, will facilitate finely customizable openness while upholding only the best security standards for true interoperability. In turn, this will allow health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities.
Chronicled utilizes blockchain technology in its MediLedger Network to bring together trading partners and medical institutions closer than ever before. Without the constant threat of communicative and organizational mishaps, room for much greater innovation and industry development created. From the automation of once-hectic processes to greater accountability from all parties, blockchain enables a new world of trust and collaboration.
Acquired in 2020 by HealthVerity, Curisium employed blockchain to create a platform for rebate negotiation and contract management. Everyone in healthcare knows how complex contract negotiations can get. Not just in discussion but in how time-consuming and cumbersome they can be.
By creating a system that streamlines this process, Curisium allows providers and payers to take part in innovative contracting arrangements that are efficient and secure. All in all, HealthVerity’s acquisition has resulted in the extensive customization and seamless automation of workflows to enable expanded opportunities for collaboration and cost-savings across all parties.
Established in 2017, Ever has modernized and equipped Thailand’s medical landscape with a blockchain, data-driven, patient-centric network. It enables best-in-class security for all connected data and parties. While maintaining close and easy communication with trusted parties — all on a flexible, future-proof, scalable blockchain foundation.
Blockchain networks let organizations establish transparency and privacy alike. It is helping to conceal sensitive patient data while allowing access and sharing when needed. Protected by state-of-the-art security solutions, attackers would require vast computational capabilities to even attempt targeting a blockchain-powered network, severely limiting the frequency, possibility and effectiveness of attacks.
Patientory leverages this advantage in the development of patient-centric applications and services, giving the company more control over their well-being. Up-to-date patient histories and data, pandemic tracking and reporting, secure communication with verified healthcare personnel and much more are a reality with their slew of innovative solutions.
A Future Alight With Innovation
One of the most exciting aspects of blockchain technology in healthcare is the foundation of growth and modularity that it provides. Though its initial implementation will face the same limitations as today’s technology, blockchain’s open nature will encourage and support industry-wide advancement for years to come.
In fact, BIS Research has revealed estimated reports that the immediate application and integration of blockchain in healthcare could save more than $100 billion per year in costs related to IT, operations, support functions, personnel and health data breaches by 2025.
While many exciting and creative blockchain solutions have emerged from pioneering companies around the world, this is only the beginning. Join the transformation today and help push the boundaries of medical technology — all while laying the foundations for a data-driven future that will drive medical breakthroughs at an unprecedented scale.
Blockchain technology in Healthcare: Health benefits for individuals, communities and organizations
At a glance, the benefits of blockchain technology in healthcare multifaceted. Whether it is for an ordinary patient, the wider community or health professionals. Here are just a few:
- Privacy: Blockchain technology offers increased privacy for the ordinary citizen, in particular if their personal ‘key’ code required to access records. Additionally, the block structure means administrative users can only update entries they granted access to – overall records in the chain remain secure.
- De-stigmatization: An enduring issue in public health stigmatized issues and how this affects patients seeking treatment. The privacy and security offered with blockchain records means patients retain some control and their history cannot transfer between professionals without their permission. Patient confidentiality can maintain much more effectively thus offering greater scope for them privately accessing clinical support.
- Organization: In an industry where record-keeping is fundamental, it is no surprise that healthcare is drowning in data management. Is it not only difficult to achieve data consistency between staff let alone facilities. It is undeniable that, even with the best protocols, user error can occur. In health, user error has serious implications for both a single patient and entire communities. Blockchain technology keeps hospitals and clinics more organized. So, there is an additional benefit for patients in terms of how this can ensure their documents well-managed. They are including prescriptions and billing.
Blockchain technology in Healthcare: Conclusion
The use of blockchain in healthcare remains in its early stages. However, the potential opportunities are so significant. It seems likely that blockchains will increasingly use throughout the healthcare system in the years to come.
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