Blockchain technology has been a game-changer for many industries, including healthcare. Healthcare is critical to human life, but despite this, there are plenty of problems in the industry. There are increasing healthcare costs, data management inefficiencies, and poor management. For instance, the US government spends about 20% of its GDP on healthcare and doesn’t even have a public healthcare system.
Luckily, blockchain may be a lasting solution. There is hope for increased efficiency and innovation. Since the covid-19 pandemic, many governments have tapped into the blockchain. Some have been in the game for some time now, like Estonia using blockchain for healthcare since 2012. So far, it has up to 95% of health data and 99% of prescription records stored in the blockchain.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is an open distributed ledger with different cryptographed blocks joined through hashes. Every block has a series of information that everyone in the network accesses. The data is cryptographed and hence is immutable. That means no person can tamper with the information. A mesh of nodes joins together each cryptographic key. Every individual node has a copy of the whole chain, and no one can tamper with it.
What gives blockchain an edge in healthcare is its decentralization, immutability, and security. Blockchain’s digital ledger technology (DLT) makes it a perfect choice. You cannot change any transaction in the open ledger.
Blockchain in Healthcare
As much as blockchain has many advantages for the healthcare industry, it also has its own issues. Some of the issues include:
An open register is a good thing for transparency. But it exposes a patient’s private information to everyone in the network. This means health providers should take privacy measures to ensure they protect information.
Healthcare regulations are always evolving in most countries. That means you should always consider a patient’s privacy as a standard.
Although blockchain is immutable and secure, it is vulnerable to attacks. Hackers are working on new ways of hacking the system. Since blockchain is immutable, many other applications or industries use it.
Despite some issues with blockchain for healthcare, the benefits outweigh the risks. Data is one of the main advantages of blockchain. Data stored in the chain is secure, immutable, accessible, managed, and encrypted. This keeps out unauthorized users.
Blockchain Applications in Healthcare
As mentioned before, blockchain in healthcare comes in handy when it comes to data. Some of the applications of blockchain in healthcare include:
Most hospitals store health records in files or a hospital’s database. In most cases, it may be inconvenient or time-consuming. Blockchain is a game-changer as it stores information in one system. In an open ledger, anyone can access info anytime and cannot change it. The system encrypts information.
A single health record system has improved healthcare. All healthcare providers can access a patient’s records. There are also minimal miscommunication chances between healthcare providers on a particular patient. This can help in minimizing misdiagnosis or mistakes when administering treatment.
With blockchain, there is seamless sharing of patient information between different providers. All a patient needs is a shareable private key to share all their medical records with any provider.
One of the main challenges that the healthcare industry faces is data breaches. Since 2009, approximately 180 million breaches in healthcare have occurred. The blockchain is immutable with cryptographic keys to ensure security. Since it is an open ledger with plenty of information, it is impossible to attack an individual user. Other users in the network have to approve a transaction before it happens.
Information is power. With the vast amount of data from the blockchain, you can use the database to identify a trend and do research. Since the data in the blockchain is accurate, it is easier to do research. This will help make informed decisions that will improve the industry.
Medical Supply Chain
Despite innovations in the medical supply chain, none beats a system using blockchain. Through technology, it is easy to trace medicine and medical supplies in the chain. This increases efficiency. There is also increased transparency and accountability while cutting down on costs involved.
Health insurance has struggled when it comes to claims. With the blockchain, it is easy to track events as soon as possible. This is suitable for insurance claims. The chain minimizes chances of tampering with data which ensures accuracy.
Keeping Track of Diseases and Outbreaks
A blockchain is a central place for all health records; you can get real-time disease reports. This can help you identify disease patterns before it’s late. You will know the specific origin and disease-spreading parameters. That means that blockchain may help in managing the outbreak of a pandemic.
Efficiency is costly when it comes to healthcare and can even cost lives. Blockchain has opened a road for innovation that may solve most of the problems of the industry. It’s a matter of time, and the industry will be in the fast lane.