Over the years, the position of blockchain changed from being known thanks to Bitcoin to become one of the most promising technologies of the future. Full decentralization creates a lot of attractive possibilities for different spheres.
Healthcare is one of the leading areas where blockchain can be of real value.
Healthcare Problems and Blockchain Strengths
Blockchain is a fully decentralized system that stores data in chronologically created blocks. No one block can be changed without the consequent changes of the following blocks. Such a system allows blockchain to protect data from unauthorized changes and fraudulent actions.
What does it have to do with healthcare?
According to HIPAA Journal, 2,546 healthcare data breaches occurred during 2009 and 2018, resulting in the theft of more than 189,945,874 healthcare records. This number is disturbing as it equates to more than 59% of the population of the USA. Still, it is only one of the problems in the healthcare industry that blockchain technology can address.
The Most Promising Blockchain Use Cases in Healthcare
The application of blockchain technology is often associated with data management. The unique nature of blockchain and data storage structure allows improving the whole healthcare industry by introducing faster access to data and protection from fraudulent actions.
Let’s look at the most interesting ideas for blockchain implementation in the healthcare industry.
- Management of health data
Blockchain medical records could become a lifesaver for the healthcare sector. Every hospital and clinic in the world have their own patient cards with information about health conditions, medical checks, health screening, and medical prescriptions. When a patient comes to a new healthcare facility, a new medical card is created. Such procedure results in the non-availability of all medical records that pertain to a particular patient.
The introduction of blockchain could cause drastic changes in the current situation. Records сcreated within a blockchain would be accessible from across the globe. This way doctors would have access to the whole medical history records of patients regardless of the location where previous records were made.
- Clinical trials
The main goal of clinical trials is to examine the efficiency of treatment for a given illness. Test results and other associated data are stored in local databases that are not immune to unauthorized changes and data loss. Even more, such data can be easily stolen, corrupted, or even changed by researchers themselves. The results of such actions could be dramatic.
This is where blockchain comes to help. Any document created can be added to the blockchain. This way, it will become protected from any fraudulent actions as any changes will be recorded in the blockchain. Transparency and accountability are just two benefits that blockchain can bring to the sphere of clinical trials and the healthcare industry in general.
- Traceability of medical supply chain and inventory
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that at least ten percent of world pharmaceutical products could be counterfeit with much higher rates in the developing countries. Deaths caused by fake medical drugs counts for millions. No less dangerous is the prescription drug misuse.
The implementation of blockchain could solve this problem, which prevails in most countries worldwide. The registration of all produced drugs and every transaction between companies in the healthcare supply chain would validate their authenticity. Taking it even further, it is possible to create a healthcare application that can be used by users to scan QR codes on the drugs packages and verify their origin online.
- Overall transparency in the flow of services
Insurance, under and overtreatment, donations to medical campaigns are the areas of the healthcare industry that are the most vulnerable to fraud. Poor security of insurance data and personal records can lead to multimillion frauds and losses. Lack of transparency in medical donations makes everyone doubt their right use.
Storage of all records in a blockchain would allow tracking all insurance claims, donations to charitable organizations and allocation of such funds. The possible ways of implementation are numerous.
- Billing tracking and management
Billing fraud is an ever-present problem in the healthcare industry. The complexity of billing operations often leads to unintentional financial mishaps and creates an opportunity for intentional financial fraud. Currently used systems and processes fail to provide an effective prevention solution. Real-time records of all operations in a blockchain would help to quickly spot fraudulent claims and ensure the transparency of all operations.
What You Can Expect from Blockchain in Healthcare
Blockchain technology is an efficient way of solving major problems in the healthcare industry. Considering that a lot of issues originate from the data mishandling, outdated data management systems, and lack of transparency, many consider blockchain to be a silver bullet.
The technology promises great opportunities to overcome all difficulties that prevent the industry from becoming less complicated and more open. Blockchain can be used to handle medical records, prevent data breaches, track drugs and supply chain, and even monitor medical devices.
Up till this moment, the real potential of blockchain has not been yet disclosed by the healthcare industry.