Advantages of Blockchain In Healthcare
February 14, 2020
Advantages of Blockchain In Healthcare
February 14, 2020

Blockchain technology is one of the most important and disruptive technologies in the world. Multiple industries are adopting the blockchain technology to innovate the way they function. One of the industries that are looking to adopt the blockchain is the healthcare industry. If adopted well there is no doubt there are a lot of Advantages of Blockchain In Healthcare which the industry could witness.

When applying the technology, it is essential to identify real-world scenarios in healthcare where blockchain may be relevant and valuable.

Here, we are going to look into what the future of the healthcare industry will look like.

Current Healthcare System

Focusing on quality health care services means ensuring patient health management at a superior level at all times. However, federal rules and regulations are making processes even more tedious and lengthy. Due to this, keeping such processes intact and still providing effective patient care is not feasible in many cases. The major issue in providing quality healthcare services is the gap between providers and payers. The dependency of middlemen in the supply chain makes it even worse, which could be one of the advantages of blockchain in healthcare if adopted well as I mentioned above.

In the healthcare sector, critical patient data and information remains scattered across different departments and systems. Because of this, crucial data is not accessible and handily available in times of need. The existing healthcare ecosystem cannot be considered complete, as multiple players in the system don’t have a system in place for smooth process management. Moreover, it is also termed as inadequate for handling the exchange of information and requires certain major changes, this is yet another thing that could be improved with blockchain.

The misuse of available data is preventing healthcare organizations from delivering appropriate patient care and high-quality services for the sake of better health. Despite being fairly efficient in terms of economy, these organizations are not able to fulfill the needs of patients.

Following are a few stats from resources that emphasize on this fact:

  • Nearly half of clinical trials in the US are unreported.
  • Up to 40% of healthcare provider data records are filled up with errors or misleading information.
  • Healthcare data breaches in organizations are estimated to cost around $380 per record in the current times. This amount is expected to increase with the passing of time.

Today, many healthcare facilities are still dependent on outdated systems for keeping patient records. These systems hold the functionality of keeping local records of the patient data. This can make it difficult for the doctors to diagnose which is time-consuming for the doctors and tedious for the patients too. Due to this, the cost of maintaining a patient-oriented business is increased considerably.

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Issues prevailing in the current healthcare sector are not limited. They keep on growing with high-intensity with time. The need for a technically advanced system is undeniable. Consider the problem of drug counterfeiting which leads to losses of around $200 million. It could be diminished dramatically if a system with accurate tracking features is put into place in the supply chain.

Another time-consuming and tedious process that results in high costs in the healthcare industry is the Health Information Exchange. Since patients don’t have any control over their data, the chances of identity thefts, financial data crimes and spamming are increasing every day.

Despite having gadgets like computers and mobile phones at every healthcare facility these days, we are still not able to collect, analyze, secure and exchange data seamlessly. Therefore, the healthcare system today not only needs an advance system rather it also needs a system that is smooth, transparent, economically efficient and easily operable.

Blockchain Solutions for Healthcare Problems

Blockchain has the power to bring out a massive breakthrough in the healthcare ecosystem, as it can easily bring specific changes in the healthcare management of the patient. With the aid of this technology, the power will come back to people’s hands. It means that individuals will be responsible for handling their own records, and getting the overall control of their own data.

The technology holds the ability to successfully improve patient care quality while maintaining the funds at a reasonable rate. All the challenges and hindrances that occur in multiple level authentication can be eliminated through blockchain. With the increasing adoption rate, blockchain has made its way to the healthcare sector. In fact, the technology is being positively accepted by people in the healthcare ecosystem.

The comprehensive vision for blockchain to disrupt the healthcare sector in the coming times would be to resolve issues that afflict the current system. Imagine a healthcare system where all the information is easily accessible by doctors, patients and pharmacists at any given time. Blockchain allows the creation and sharing of a single common database of health information.

This system would be accessible by all the entities involved in the process no matter which electronic medical system they use. This offers higher security and transparency while allowing doctors to find more time to spend on patient care and their treatment. Moreover, it will also enable better sharing of statistics of researches which, would facilitate clinical trials and treatment therapies for any rare disease.

In a healthcare system, smooth data sharing between healthcare solution providers can lead to accuracy in diagnosis, effective treatments, and cost-effective ecosystem. The day-to-day growth of patient data requires the proper utilization of resources in order to make the most effective utilization of the insights discovered through it.

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Blockchain for healthcare allows multiple entities of the healthcare ecosystem to stay in sync and share data on a commonly distributed ledger. With such a system in place, the participants can share and keep a track of their data and other activities happening in the system without having to look out for additional options for integrity and security.

On September 26, MediConnect, a blockchain startup, has completed the workflow for the Proof-of-Concept (PoC) designed to record medications through the supply chain and started began integration of online pharmacy UK Meds’ processes to its platform. It has established a foundation and methodology for proof-of-concept finalization, which will authorize recording and managing of prescription medication through the supply chain — from manufacturer to end-users. Within this year, MediConnect is also preparing and planning to complete a pilot scheme, which includes up to 10 participants. As part of the pilot, it is going to incorporate online pharmacy UK Meds’ processes into its blockchain-based platform, allowing recording products through its supply chain and preventing the misuse of prescription medications.

Jack Liu, the CEO of ALLIVE, an intelligent healthcare ecosystem based on blockchain technology, believes that the blockchain is going to help solve problems.

He said:

“A blockchain environment can eliminate a large portion of this fraud when providers and patients must enter their information and data to be verified, recorded and stored and health insurance companies must have access to that data.”

Blockchain Applications in Healthcare

Blockchain has a wide range of applications and uses in healthcare. The ledger technology facilitates the secure transfer of patient medical records, manages the medicine supply chain and helps healthcare researchers unlock genetic code.

Here are a few use cases that utilize the potential of the technology and could make the healthcare industry more accessible, secure and reliable.

Blockchain Use Cases in Healthcare

  • Blockchain and Healthcare can be used for relief efforts.
  • It stops counterfeit drugs.
  • It makes electronic health records more accessible with blockchain.
  • It tracks clinical trials and pharmaceuticals with blockchain.
  • It tracks medical credentials with blockchain.
  • It enhances the security and control of healthcare transactions.
  • It underpins data security in healthcare.
  • It establishes a proper chain of custody in drug shipments.
  • It prevents diseases.
  • It improves dental treatment with blockchain.

Can Blockchain Improve Patient-Doctor Interactions?

With MedicalChain, you have full access and control over your own personal health data. Users are able to grant doctors immediate access to their health records through their mobile devices, while data is kept secure on the blockchain. Patients can also wear wristbands, which medical professionals can scan to access a person’s medical history if they are unconscious. It also offers telemedicine communication enabling online video consultations with doctors.

How Blockchain could make Digital Healthcare Safer and More Innovative?

Digital healthcare trends are largely driven by the need for better patient care, faster and more accurate analysis, and on-demand access to medical data. The pace of innovation in digital healthcare began gaining momentum with artificial intelligence (AI), and it is set to further accelerate as the industry turns to blockchain technology.

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Blockchain technology is being leveraged to remodel the collaborative exchange of vital research and use healthcare data, thereby enabling key stakeholders such as clinical researchers, doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers to gain secure, faster, simplified and reliable access to electronic medical information. The industry already has a similar platform called the Health Information Exchange (HIE).

  • The emergence of 5G wireless networks and blockchain will help redefine and rethink digital healthcare.
  • A new catalyst of industry-wide interoperability. 
  • Seamless access and exchange of information with reduced transaction costs.
  • Overcoming the challenges of a master-patient index with cryptography to increase data integrity and safer interoperability. 
  • Availability of smart contracts that enable transactions without the need for intermediaries and third parties. 

Advantages of the Medical Healthcare Blockchain

  • Since the blockchain is immutable and traceable, patients can easily send records to anyone without the fear of data corruption or tampering.
  • Similarly, a medical record that has been generated and added to the blockchain will be completely secure.
  • The patient can have some control over how their medical data gets used and shared by the institutes. Any party which is looking to get the medical data about a patient could check with the blockchain to get the necessary permission.
  • The patient can also be incentivized for good behavior through a reward mechanism. For example, they can get tokens for following a care plan or for staying healthy. They can also be rewarded by tokens for giving their data for clinical trials and research.
  • Pharma companies need to have an extremely secure supply chain because of the kind of product they carry. Pharma drugs are consistently stolen from the supply chain to be sold illegally to various consumers.  Also, counterfeit drugs alone cost these companies, nearly $200 billion annually. A transparent blockchain will help these companies to enable close tracking of drugs to their point of origin and help eliminate falsified medication.
  • Various medical institutes around the world conduct their own research and clinical trials on various new drugs and medications. A blockchain will help create a single global database to collect all this data and put it in one place.
  • Insurance fraud is a major problem that is affecting the healthcare industry. This happens when dishonest providers and patients submit false claims/information to receive payable benefits.

Conclusion

It has taken the healthcare industry by storm over the past year and many solutions are being developed to adopt it. With so many potential use cases and possibilities, blockchain is sure to disrupt the healthcare landscape for good.

Source: hackernoon.com | forbes.com | blockgeeks.com | builtin.com | openledger.info | himss.org


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Ishita Bora

Ishita Bora is a content creator at Digital Notice Media Labs. She has completed her Master's Degree in Language and Linguistics in 2019 from Gauhati University, India. She is an archetypal writer, who loves to create her own little world with words and locutions. Apart from this, her interest lies in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency space, as she loves writing about blockchain and other blockchain-related articles. Currently, she is working on blockchain-based news, reviews, and guides.
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