The healthcare industry is under a lot of strain. There are the rising costs of operation, clinical trials, new drugs and vaccines, patient medical records, and data breaches.
The healthcare industry is one of the biggest sufferers in terms of data breaches. According to Apnews, for every patient-record breached, the industry has to pay about $380. This amount is about 2.5 times higher than the cost of a data breach in any other industry.
But blockchain technology can alter this. Although this technology is usually associated with cryptocurrency, it is very useful for several industries, such as healthcare, because information and medical data get stored in ‘blocks’ that can’t be tampered or altered. They can’t be accessed without codes provided only to those who have permission to access the stored data.
How are patient records being stored now?
Right now, patients’ records are consolidated and stored in cyberspace. A patient, for example, can enter a username and password to access his records. He can also control who can access this information.
Thus, patients can take more control over their health care needs, plus they always have their medical records on hand in an emergency, even when they are away from home. Doctors and healthcare providers can share medical records among themselves. For example, when a patient is being transferred to another hospital for treatment, the treating doctor can share the records with the new hospital.
But this data can easily be breached or lost. And it is also incomplete.
Advantages of healthcare blockchain technology
The encryption and storage of healthcare data on the blockchain has a number of benefits, such as-
- All patient records are tamper-proof and traceable
All patient records stored in a blockchain-based system are secure from theft and unalterable. Patients have control over who accesses them. They grant permission to doctors to access these records as well as add new into blocks of the blockchain.
This means no theft, alteration, and data breaches.
- Reduction of fraud and stealing of drugs
Most pharma companies get drugs and controlled substances from manufacturers. This procurement has to be tracked so that there are no thefts or frauds.
When blockchain is implemented, there is an end-to-end record of transport, which means that the drugs can’t be stolen at transfer points.
- Expedited clinical trials
We all know that it takes years of testing for drugs and vaccines to receive approval after clinical trials. Usually, studies and trials are conducted globally, and there is no method available by which the trial data can be collated into a single database. Blockchain has the potential to make this happen.
- No more insurance fraud
Insurance fraud is a crime. It occurs when dishonest health insurance providers don’t fund procedures. It also occurs when patients submit fake claims to get money. A lot of fraud is taking place in this sector. Healthcare professionals bill for services like investigations not performed, and tests not conducted by falsifying a patient’s medical condition to inflate medical insurance bills. The providers, as well as the patients, suffer because they have to pay higher medical premiums every year.
Once blockchain technology is introduced, everything will be entered into the blockchain, which is immutable. This will cut down on a large portion of such frauds.
All the information entered will not just be stored but also be verified and secured. The security will protect the patients’ personal information, which is at risk with traditional systems.
- Locating inaccurate information is easier
Many users of this revolutionary technology claim that locating inaccurate information is faster with blockchain than with traditional systems. All data sits in one repository, which can be shared across shareholders. This means locating data is very easy through the use of this tool.
There is still some time to reach what is considered the ultimate for blockchain in healthcare, i.e., creating a complete and portable medical record of a patient. Traditionally, a patient’s health record sits in various locations like a doctor’s office and labs whose computer systems don’t speak with each other.
Blockchain can be used to keep track of these pieces so that all doctors can access these complete records with permission.
What, perhaps, stops blockchain from reaching its full potential is the fact that it is relatively immature and struggles to handle large transactions. Building blocks in the blockchain is also tough. It also costs a lot of money.
But there is no doubt that blockchain is an extremely promising technological tool that is gaining traction as a tool that could solve the healthcare industry’s age-old woes that cause a loss of money and also lead to poor healthcare for millions. It is also a key that will help in unlocking barriers to data -sharing and enable more value-based patient care.
We can safely say in the end that blockchain technology holds a great deal of promise for the healthcare industry and that it is time for all providers in the industry to explore its potential.