New technologies hold the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare industry manage, secure, and share patient data. Artificial intelligence, telemedicine, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are currently riding the hyped waves, but the industry is still not operationalizing the investments in this new data management strategy, although adoption is predicted to be swift and comprehensive.
Utilizing Blockchain Technology in today’s healthcare arrangement
The blockchain is said to be the most important creation for healthcare, since the advent of the Internet. The blockchain technology can be very useful to integrate healthcare information, which is currently scattered within the hands of multiple service providers. Since it is a distributed network, blockchain-based systems can be used in storing longitudinal patient histories that can be used by patients, healthcare organizations, and providers.
One of its major advantages is Interoperability among various organizations and healthcare providers. Blockchains can result in improved data integration, decentralization, reduced transactional costs, delivering precision medicine, improving patient care and outcomes, and the connecting Electronic Health Records (EHR) across the system. By combining these functions, blockchain can result in real-time Patient Monitoring with reduced cost. Utilizing an updated patient database, healthcare providers, and a range of intermediaries can quickly access patient records across all healthcare systems which improves the collaboration between different health institutions.
Blockchains can become the base for reliable Health Information Exchange (HIE) and Integrating the Health care Enterprise (IHE). The ability to connect the system across utilities such as insurance companies, financial and operational services, revenue cycles & supply chains, and back-office data input can significantly reduce the maintenance costs. Data accuracy and security are added benefits.
Blockchain technology could be a boon in emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, as hospitals can easily access data rather than collect medical histories from individual patients.
Improving patient’s hold on health data
In a blockchain, every individual in the community holds its own local copy of the shared database. When any single individual wishes to make a change to that database, the potential edit must meet a series of cryptographic criteria, that confirms the identity of the individual making the change. Every member of the community must authorize the edit before it can be confirmed, then only a local copy of the shared database is changed to reflect the activity.
If the database contains information from patient’s medical health record, then that patient could be put in complete control of who can access the record and who can make changes. Using a private blockchain, the patient could monitor the accuracy of edits such as new diagnoses, refills, and others. Patients can even limit which healthcare providers are allowed to access sensitive information such as mental health data. The patients could also receive automated notifications, whenever a provider seeks permission to access or edit a certain piece of health information in the database. This particular feature gives more control to patients over how, when, and for what purpose their data is edited or shared. Since blockchain edits include detailed timestamps, patients could potentially view all activity on their account from a single location, preventing confusion over conflicts and creating more accountability across the healthcare spectrum.
With the help of blockchain, patients become more engaged and proactive, as they take charge of their own care.
Improving Care Coordination
Healthcare providers will be able to benefit from a trusted, and united view of an improvised database shared across the care team. As providers are in dire need of data management tools that can help rather than hinder the care coordination process, blockchain could be their answer, if an individual’s records were centralized within a blockchain-based care management platform, both patients and providers could work together to synchronize the efforts of a core team with members operating at multiple facilities.
Patients would no longer have to carry a bunch of files back and forth between multiple appointments or from one specialist to another. Instead, with the use of blockchain technology providers can collaborate with one another more directly, while still leaving the ultimate authority for changes or edits in the patient’s hands.
Addressing Patient’s Safety
Medication understanding is one of the most difficult of patient management tasks. Even when patients can accurately remember all of their medications, errors in medication lists are startlingly common. Blockchain could again be used for centralized approval, to address this critical issue of patient’s safety. If one provider writes a prescription that is similar to the recommendations of another provider, then the blockchain could flag the duplication notify the patient to prevent from doubling up on the same medication.
The increasing demand for healthcare services and the integrated care delivery system has risen the need for an information management system which does not depend on middlemen. The blockchain has already started to deliver on these promises and its robustness and security show immense potential to boost healthcare performance in the near future. The advantages are already showing the enhancement in the quality of care with reduced the costs of delivery.