In a simplified way, blockchain is a decentralized system that records and stores transaction records. The technology allows a shared and immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions, in which the network point can behave both as a server and as a client. It is built from blocks of linked transactions and stored in a digital record.
There is no central authority in this system, eliminated by intelligent encryption, but distributed to all network participants. Blockchain interactions become known to all participants and require verification by the network before information is added.
This allows collaboration without trust between network participants while recording an immutable audit trail of all interactions. i.e., the blockchain will enable us to agree with the story, even if not everyone trusts each other, which unfortunately is a frequent scenario in the healthcare field.
When the sector changes its remuneration model to one based on indicators that involve multiple stakeholders and which needs to be a reliable and audited indicator as it defines the remuneration of each of them, the blockchain can be an essential accelerator of this change.
Also, as the healthcare industry handles confidential patient information and requires quick access to information, the blockchain can streamline these medical records and make it possible to share them securely, and unlike a traditional database, in which the data is stored in the physical memory of a given system, and anyone who has access to that system has the power to corrupt data, the blockchain, at one time, offers access security, scalability, and data privacy, due to its differentiated and decentralized structure.
Generally, critical patient information is scattered everywhere he has interacted in his life, and at times it may not even be accessible when necessary. With this new model, patients would have the data available, regardless of the electronic medical record system used by the institutions.
The exchange of health information powered by blockchain could reveal the actual value of interoperability. These systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate friction and the costs of today’s intermediaries.
A national blockchain network for medical records can improve efficiency and support better health outcomes for patients in the long run. Blockchain is used to maintain records of a patient.
These records would go well beyond data on episodes, illnesses, laboratory results, or treatments. Genetic, nutrition, lifestyle, and even family history data could be compiled.
In this model, patients would have a unique identification. Health care records are often incompatible or duplicated. This is because electronic medical records are not interoperable in the system as a whole, nor do they have standardized fields.
An example of this applied technology is MedRec. This prototype uses blockchain to improve electronic medical records and allow patient data to be accessed securely by any provider, solving the waste of time, money, duplication of procedures, and confusion of information that could threaten the patient’s life.
Other applications can be found in drug development, medical research – the blockchain can provide anonymous access to data to make medical innovation faster – fraud management and billing are some of the opportunities, for example. Regarding the last item, Medicare fraud caused more than $ 30 million of losses in the U.S. in 2016.
Blockchain-based systems could minimize what happened; they could also reduce administration costs for billing, eliminating the need for intermediaries, with automated activities and more efficient processing.
The United States is expected to spend 20% of its GDP investing in health next year. With its ability to decrease current spending, protect patient data, and improve the overall health experience, blockchain can help a lot with health.
The technology is already being used to do everything from securely encrypting patient data to managing disease outbreaks.
Now, all health billing in the country is processed on a blockchain, 95% of health information is based on books, and 99% of all prescription information is digital.
Check out these four examples of sectors where blockchain technology is revolutionizing healthcare.
Security of patient data
Keeping our medical data safe and secure is the most popular demand at the moment, which is not surprising. Security is a significant problem in the health sector.
The perpetrators stole bank and credit card information, as well as health check records.
Blockchain technology is an abundant technology for security applications as it maintains a transparent record of all patient data and is decentralized.
In addition, although the blockchain is transparent, it is also private. It is possible to hide the identity of any individual with complex and secure codes that can protect the sensitivity of medical data.
The technology’s decentralized nature also allows patients, doctors, and healthcare professionals to share the same information quickly and safely. Blockchain technology helps healthcare companies securely manage large amounts of patient data. Its blockchain technology allows the storage, sale, sharing, or licensing of data while maintaining strict compliance with HIPAA rules.
Real-life impact: Since the Blockchain platform includes complete and up-to-date information on patients’ health and health activities, it can help to eradicate abuse of opioids or other prescription drugs.
Blockchain registrations can streamline processes and prevent errors
The lack of communication between medical professionals costs the health sector an astonishing $ 11 billion a year.
The time-consuming process of gaining access to a patient’s medical records depletes staff resources and delays patient care. Blockchain-based medical records offer a cure for these ills.
The decentralized nature of the technology allows patient data to be consulted quickly. The information can be accessed by doctors, hospitals, and anyone else involved in treating the patient.
In this way, blockchain can lead to faster diagnostics and personalized care plans. Health institutions need to work using blockchain to create shared databases and personalized health plans.
Open access to crucial medical information helps healthcare professionals to coordinate medical efforts more quickly than traditional methods.
Blockchain application: Blockchain can create an open-source database so that healthcare providers can access patient information and coordinate care.
Drug traceability and safety
How much do we know about our medicine? Can we be sure that it has not been tampered with? Does it come from a legitimate supplier? These questions are the main concerns of the medical supply chain or the link between the laboratory and the market.
Blockchain has serious implications for pharmaceutical supply chain management, and its decentralization ensures virtually complete transparency in the shipping process. Here is an example of a company that is using blockchain to rethink the medical supply chain.
The Blockchain networks demonstrate the supply chain. The networks help pharmaceutical companies to ensure that their drugs arrive efficiently and allow the police to analyze any suspicious activity – such as drug trafficking. In 2017, Chronicled created the Mediledger Project, an accounting system dedicated to the security, privacy, and efficiency of medical supply chains.
Blockchain application: The safe arrival and detailed review of medicine shipments can be ensured using a blockchain network.
Advances in genome sequencing
The potential of genome sequencing to improve the future of human health, once a dream, is now a scientific and financial reality.
In 2001, the cost to process a human genome was $ 1 Billion. Today costs about $ 1,000, and many companies are bringing DNA tests that reveal clues about our health and the past to millions of homes.
It has even become a market where people can sell their genetic information to create a broader database. Blockchain technology is used to deepen our understanding of the most basic building blocks of human life. By using distributed accounting technology, the unnecessary and intermediary expenses in the genetic study process are eliminated.
Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies spend billions of dollars each year acquiring genetic data from third parties. Blockchain technology is helping to build a giant genetic database, eliminating expensive intermediaries and encouraging users to sell their encrypted genetic data securely.
Blockchain application: Blockchain is used to streamline the study of genetics and reduce costs.
POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS OF BLOCKCHAIN IN HEALTH
- Payments and money transfers
The most appropriate use for Blockchain is probably to speed up transferring funds from one entity to another. As noted, with banks excluded from the equation and transaction authentication occurring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, most transactions made on Blockchain can be resolved in seconds.
- Digital identification
Over 1 billion people worldwide face identification challenges. Blockchain offers the ability to vote remotely, but it is clear enough that any authority can see if anything on the network has been modified. This combines the simplicity of digital voting with the immutability of Blockchain so that the vote counts.
- Monitor prescription drugs
Blockchain can be an excellent way to monitor controlled drugs transparently. In an environment where drug refunds are taking place and generic drugs are a reality, Blockchain provides drug manufacturers with the ability to track their products based on serial numbers and batches to ensure that customers get the right product when looking for medicines.
Several technology companies are currently focused on launching Blockchain-based systems for professionals and patients to improve healthcare. Blockchain is revolutionizing the medical industry worldwide.
It has become a valuable tool for healthcare industries as it provides decentralized patient records, expanding payment options, and monitors pharmaceutical products.
Clinical trials – In the pharmaceutical industry, to confirm or invalidate findings, clinical trials are designed to test the effectiveness and efficiency of a group of patients. It usually takes several years, and the results are essential for the success of the drug.
A large amount of data is generated during clinical trials – safety and quality reports, estimates, blood tests, research, medical images – and large groups of people are involved, making it difficult to track and control everyone.
Prospects for the future of blockchain in health
According to expectations about the new generation of mobile communication technology, 5G – which tends to be faster and more efficient in data transfer -, the advances made around Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and information security will make it even more realistic and accessible.
This also applies to the diffusion of blockchain in the healthcare sector. In the face of this new technological scenario, there will be greater investment in data recording and transmission solutions, even more so given the need to adapt to legislation.
For all these reasons, we can say that the future of tools such as blockchain for healthcare is very promising since this structure can support a rigorous system for preserving patient data and expanding access to information on discoveries in scientific studies.