Blockchain has taken not an only healthcare system, but banking and industrial sectors too by storm! Healthcare is drowning in data – clinical trials, medical records etc., scattering a lot of information all over the place. One of the best features of blockchain is ‘decentralization’ – keeping a large amount of data in small units.
There is a transformation of healthcare outcomes due to the simplicity of blockchain. It enables new ecosystems to evolve, ensuring trust by increasing the quality of care, data provenance and efficiency to improve profitability. Blockchain has brought about a change in the way information is stored within the organization, with healthcare partners, payers and most importantly with patients. The blockchain decentralizes the healthcare information, increasing data availability, efficiency, transparency, and trust. It also requires careful planning to make the most out of the advantages it gives.
For instance, in a prescription system firstly a patient visits a doctor, then visits a pharmacy and finally the patient picks up the prescription. But if done through blockchain, it ensures that the right medicine reaches to the right person. The blockchain system makes the transactions transparent by containing all of the patient’s medication history in one registry accessible by all the pharmacies. This system allows for the information to be easily updated and making it immune to the human error or tampering; thus solving the issues of dangerous drug consumption.
To elaborate on this, when prescribing a medicine, the health care providers have an accurate and immediate view of patient’s health records. In the next step, pharmacies can provide exceptional customer service based on patients’ previous drug history. Medical records are made accessible so as to control harmful drug interaction. The blockchain solutions have the potential to support the complete life cycle of a patient’s electronic medical record while also keeping health data private and secured. Finally, it is a process of drug track that creates a reliable system of monitoring legitimate drugs and ensures that the patients get appropriate drugs for their individual needs.
Because the development and research of the new drugs are costly and high-risk, there could be new drug development and lower costs by making patients’ lab reports readily available (with the permission from patients); through blockchain. Blockchain would also drastically reduce tampering capabilities in the drug manufacturing phase and ensure pharmaceuticals are genuine.
Blockchain for healthcare industry provides:
- Security – patient information is shared across a network where authorized personnel has access. If anyone changes the information it is instantaneously updated to all users.
- Accountability – currently the practices are disparate and disconnected. Healthcare data is very valuable and many institutions are reluctant to share it with other providers/specialists. This lack of collaboration between institutions make it extremely difficult to process all the generated data and halt some process which can harm patients’ health. For example, the pharmacies will be able to view the approved prescriptions and also view the patients’ past medical history from the providers’ side, creating a layer of accountability and transparency.
- Authority – the blockchain solves the issue of harmful drug interaction by allowing medical personnel to monitor and cross-check the patient’s drug history. Also by using automated billing service, it reduces admin costs and eliminates other intermediaries, thus making billing process more efficient.
- Efficiency – due to the blockchain, there is an overall improvement in services that are provided, gaining more trust. For example, the prescription system ensures that patients will receive one on one treatment based on their previous history.
The blockchain is not for large storage data sets. It is not an analytics platform. However, it is ideal for ensuring data integrity where the control is decentralized. The three prominent opportunities are:
- Medical records – a medical record is generated and signed. It allows medical records of patients to be accessed by healthcare providers at any time required. It gives immediate access to all healthcare information across all the providers that they have visited. It also gives patients’ the opportunity to grant anonymous access to their personal medical records to researchers. The record is never altered, and the integrity of the medical record is ensured. When it comes to integration of medical record, it has an impact in legal cases as well.
- Then comes the Consent Management – where every state has different privacy and consent regulations, with help of blockchain the patient records could be used and shared with the patients’ consent. Anyone seeking to exchange medical data about a patient could check the blockchain for permission to do so.
- Finally, the Micropayments – if patients stay healthy, follow their appointments and their care plans, then there might be rewards offered through the blockchain. Similarly, patients might also be rewarded for contributing their data to clinical research using the same approach.
Therefore, the obvious benefits of the blockchain are:
- Transparent billing management – it provides realistic solutions and minimizes frauds.
- Easy data exchange and interoperability – the system is irrevocable and cryptographically secured.
- Efficient monitoring – powerful and precise monitoring is the key to better healthcare management.
- Organized processes – blockchain technology not only save patients’ important data but also traces all the distributed data.
- Collaboration – a success of public health depends on collaborating with various providers/specialists into vital healthcare trends.
- Cost efficient – there is more precision during diagnosis and eventually gives a better cure for various diseases. The hassle-free data sharing across the system offers cost-efficient treatments.
One of the major challenges in the healthcare industry is how to transmit patient data across geographies, without compromising security and privacy. But now, blockchain is changing things. Most of the healthcare organizations are recognizing the ability the blockchain has to reduce the time, cost, and risks.
This technology places the patient at the center of the health care, increasing the interoperability, privacy and most important – security of the health data. Blockchain makes electronic medical records more efficient and can provide a new model for health information exchanges (HIE). By centralizing the results of diagnosis and storing them in a way that is accessible, can become part of research and in turn lead to quick innovation.
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