What is blockchain in healthcare?
To understand what blockchain in healthcare is and how it is utilized, one must first understand the word ‘blockchain’.
If you associate the word blockchain with cryptocurrency you are not far off. It is the very same technology with the same principles but is used for a different purpose: healthcare.
Blockchain eliminates the middle man, it is said to be decentralized. Decentralizing technology has many advantages. Not only does it increase efficiency and reduce costs but it helps to increase transparency.
Furthermore, blockchain technology is extremely secure and is traceable which is why it is alluring to so many different kinds of industries.
The reason why blockchain in healthcare technology is so revolutionizing is that it offers significant benefits over any pre-existing technology. Some major benefits are :
- Improved Security
Like any technology, blockchain is not hacking proof, but having said that blockchain technology makes it extremely difficult for any third party to break into your systems.
- Prevent deaths
Every year thousands of people become a victim of counterfeit drugs and die as a result. Blockchain technology helps to regulate the drug supply chains which makes it much easier for pharmacists and patients to verify the drug.
- Prevents spread of disease
Regulatory authorities such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control) are exploring blockchain-related use for disease control. They map out blockchain usage for timestamping of records to report and detect the outbreak of disease.
- Maintains integrity of clinical trials
Clinical trials have sensitive information. Any changes to this information can have a series of disastrous consequences.
The tampering of such data is prevented by the use of blockchain technology in healthcare. It ensures traceability and substantial historicity and inviolability of data by making use of Smart Contracts.
Top Healthcare Companies in Blockchain
Every year countries across the globe invest billions of dollars in the healthcare industry. Despite this, the healthcare industry is suffering. It is drowning in a multitude of problems that range from cyber attacks to sky-high prices.
To tackle the never-ending list of problems posed by healthcare certain companies have decided to place their bets on blockchain technology. Blockchain in healthcare technology is not only being implemented today but also shows significant promise for the future.
Below is a list of the top five healthcare companies disrupting the healthcare industry by making use of the revolutionary blockchain technology.
The innovative UK based company is valued just shy of 25 million dollars. It employs industry-leading blockchain technology to store medical health records.
The records are securely transferred across multiple platforms and are tamper-proof. The same record can be accessed by all types of medical staff such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc.
Furthermore, health insurers can request access to patient records and are then able to record all transactions on a ledger-based system.
As the name suggests this US-based company not only uses blockchain technology but couples it up with AI (Artificial Intelligence) to deliver a completely futuristic approach to medicine.
The company aims to have a consumer-controlled, blockchain-based future, which employs the use of AI.
3) Blockchain Health
Based in San Francisco this software company aims to build a direct connection between medical research and its users using blockchain technology.
It allows the users to share their information directly with the researcher by using their blockchain-based platform.
The company came into prominence for offering users a way to anonymously sell their DNA information for cryptocurrency in a new market known as the genomic data market. The company aims to become “the Amazon of genetic material”.
Though ethically questionable, the genomic data market launched in 2018 and is an emerging platform for consumers willing to share and re-market genetic data.
The main aim of this particular company centers around reducing the inefficiencies in the healthcare industry.
Their primary product is ConnectingCare which is a platform that brings together healthcare providers from different organizations where they can view the same data for shared patients.
ConnectingCare is powered by blockchain technology that helps in the reduction of costs and reduces the duration of care by allowing users to follow up on patients.
The AI integrated platform makes use of financial and clinical algorithms which provides significant strategic opportunities.
Furthermore, SimplyVItalHealth is also working on a second product known as Health Nexus. This software makes use of a blockchain protocol which is the first of its kind to be HIPAA compliant.
Healthcare Opportunities Provided by Blockchain Technology
Blockchain in healthcare applications is too numerous to list down. The multitude of applications offers a massive number of opportunities.
Let’s discuss twelve of the most lucrative ones below :
1) Patients are in control
Blockchain tech offers the patients themselves control over their medical data. The patients themselves choose to allow access to their records to people they trust.
In a proof of concept study blockchain technology proved to be a few hundred times faster than the conventional way.
The blazing speeds of blockchain will ensure a faster time-efficient future with nearly instantaneous transactions.
Cyberwarfare is becoming a greater threat day by day. The decentralization of blockchain provides a secure pathway for data transfer.
The peer-to-peer network – where participants directly interact is shared across all therefore there is no single point of weakness.
Blockchain is extremely versatile this enables it to be run across all platforms and be used by anyone and everyone.
5) Smart Contracts
Smart Contacts are digital codes that automate the execution of functions, programs, and transactions.
Blockchain allows the user to utilize Smart Contracts which have supreme potential and are already being utilized in different sectors of the healthcare industry such as clinical trials.
Blockchain technology provides consumers with a single source of truth.
Since all the nodes must reach a consensus, this makes sure that all the participants agree on the nature of the data present within the network.
The transparency and immutability of blockchain make it particularly valuable for industries that have regular audits of data such as the healthcare industry.
It allows the patients to contact their doctors virtually via the internet. Using telemedicine patients can help their physicians process real-time data with the use of the sensors.
The data offers the doctor a bird’s eye view of the patient’s condition. However, this information is susceptible to hackers who can access this information.
Blockchain tech can be implemented to collect, transfer, and analyze this data securely and reliably.
8) Highly Efficient
Blockchain stores patient information in a digital ledger, because of this patients can easily transfer to different hospitals or change doctors without going through the hassle of transferring records from one organization to the next. All a patient has to do is grant access by entering their private key.
9) Drug Traceability
Countries across the world are victims of drug counterfeiting. This not only puts the manufacturer’s reputation at risk but also exposes patients to some serious side effects.
To counter this potentially life-threatening situation blockchain technology can be used to trace the drugs from their origins and to weed out any fakes.
Blockchain encapsulates information about the drug at every stage of its lifecycle right from production to its purchase.
10) Facilitation of cryptocurrency
Blockchain in healthcare applications is just not limited to the use of transferring and recording data but it can be used for payment-related purposes as well.
Blockchain makes it possible to pay for any kind of medical service via cryptocurrency. This makes the transactions secure, untraceable, and hassle free.
A micropayment is another new concept brought via blockchain. It is a value-based system utilized within the healthcare industry.
This system allows the patients to be rewarded if they can follow the doctor’s orders and can stick to them.
This system operates on blockchain technology and will record every detail about the patient’s activities relevant to the treatment. The patient’s activities will be reviewed and tracked back to them.
12) Verifications of medical personnel
The verification of credentials of any person especially those of medical staff is extremely important. However, this is a time consuming and labor intensive task.
The incorporation of blockchain technology while verifying credentials will streamline this process and bring about an error-free outcome.
The idea behind this technology is that all of the relevant credentials would be entered into the distributed ledger. This would then be accessed by those people who have entered a blockchain credentialing agreement.
The Limitations of Blockchain Technology in Healthcare
Although blockchain technology has shown major promise for the healthcare industry it isn’t perfect. Just like any other thing in this world it has limitations to what it can achieve.
The list below highlights some of the limitations of blockchain technology
Despite having some major advantages, blockchain tech still isn’t widely used. This is because it is still fairly new and there have been only a few successful initiatives.
This itself poses a problem because there aren’t very many successful models to follow therefore there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding it.
Since blockchain technology is fairly new there is virtually no telling how much it costs to build and maintain it. Therefore, very few consider dipping their toes in without actually knowing about the expenses beforehand.
- Data ownership
Currently, there are no rules set in stone governing the data within the blockchain system. Who will own the data? Who will decide to share the data in case a patient is unable to do it himself? these questions and more need to be answered before the implementation of blockchain within healthcare.
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Increase efficiency and reduce costs. The healthcare CRM has many standouts
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The healthcare industry is constantly evolving. To adapt to this ever-changing landscape Folio3 offers the best most advanced market competitive software.
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Love it or hate it, blockchain in healthcare is on the horizon and there is no stopping it. Will it cure the healthcare industry of all of its diseases or will it set a completely new set of problems is what remains to be seen.