Most of us have heard a lot about the Blockchain in context of a cryptocurrency called Bitcoin, which gained quite a popularity in recent years; however, it can have a much wider use than just a simple payment method, including and crossing various industries. So, the question here is how does Blockchain actually work in the healthcare industry?
What is the Blockchain that everyone is talking about?
The blockchain is a technology that generates immutable and distributable data records which are shared from peer to peer between networked database systems. The technology records every digital event in such a way that it does not allow for the data to be changed, tempered or recognized until it reaches the intended recipient. This provides the most significant benefit of the Blockchain approach that is Data Integrity, protection and security from breaches. According to data from the Silicon Republic, Blockchain startups raised $1.4 billion in 2016 and $1 million in 2017. The financial sector has already realized the benefits of using Blockchain. In total, the banks that use this technology save $8–12 billion annually.
This gives rise to a new idea, “Will medical organizations and the Healthcare industry be able to benefit from cryptography?”
Blockchain in Healthcare
Healthcare and medicine business is also undergoing huge changes due to the Blockchain. The classical technology used in healthcare was centralized earlier. However, the sphere is now experiencing benefits of the decentralized system as well with the introduction of Blockchain in Healthcare. For example, storing of various medicine-related or pharmaceutical data has become more secure and integral due to Blockchain. Moreover, many Blockchain healthcare software providers have already sensed the potential of this market and have entered the healthcare market.
Healthcare has witnessed a major paradigm shift after the development of technology-driven innovations, from Virtual Reality based simulations to the Smart Hospital and Artificial-Intelligence-driven health solutions. These innovations in the healthcare industry have simplified patient care, changing the narrative and the prime objective to a patient-centric model. The introduction of Blockchain in Healthcare has taken this to next levels of revolution and is having a wide impact in structuring and helping this department to flourish.
The healthcare industry is actively accepting this revolutionising technology as stakeholders are beginning to tap into the enormous benefits that Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies have created in healthcare. A study by Frost & Sullivan titled,Blockchain in Healthcare, Forecast 2017-2025 estimates that, ‘The global Blockchain in the healthcare market will grow at a CAGR of 63.85% from 2018 to 2025, reaching a market value of $5.61 billion. The Blockchain is also expected to provide efficient healthcare services through advances in health information technology’. (Source) This is estimated to save the industry up to $100 – $150 billion yearly by 2025. This research further analyses some of the most promising applications of Blockchain in the healthcare industry. You can use this source link to have a more detailed insight into this report and have proper facts for the next topic we are going to discuss below.
Perks of Blockchain in Healthcare
The era of Blockchain in Healthcare has already begun which can be established from the above-discussed facts and figures. Taking into account the fast and exponential progress in the development of new and more efficient healthcare record systems, wearable devices for health solutions, and medical examination systems implementing artificial intelligence, cryptography will become an important part of the way hospitals function. There are, however, a few improvements that are still needed and are essential in order for seamless Blockchain adoption across the entire medical and healthcare industry. According to Hyperledger’s survey, ‘42.9% of healthcare organizations suppose that the interoperability of electronic health records will help for faster Blockchain implementation; with 28.6% of respondents ready to use this technology in care settings today’. (Source) So, what are the actual benefits of Blockchain in healthcare?
Data Provenance and Integrity
With an ongoing escalation in patient numbers, healthcare providers are bound to manage more and more healthcare and medical data on a regular basis. As the data volume increases with each year passing by, it becomes harder for hospitals and clinics to process and store information of the patients. Quick access to real-time patient data and secure information sharing methods, which allow both healthcare providers and their covered entities or the actual patients to verify the correctness and confidentiality of data, are crucial for ensuring proper medical services. This is where Blockchain comes in as the most useful option, as one of its main advantages is data integrity. When information is recorded and encrypted using Blockchain technology, it becomes impossible to change or remove the data.
Blockchain technology here offers a decentralized system of health and medical data exchange which protects and helps authenticate health information of the patients. In addition, Blockchain technology eliminates the burden and cost associated with data reconciliation by enabling easy access and secure transmission of real-time health information.
Drug Traceability and Clinical Trials
Statistics and researches have revealed that pharmaceutical companies globally incur up to as much as $200 billion annually in losses associated with counterfeit drugs. More than one-third of the number of drugs sold in developing countries are thought to be counterfeit. With Blockchain on Healthcare technology, barriers to supply chain tracking can be reduced and eliminated by creating a proper chain-of-custody log, using AI-based add-ons to build a proof of ownership data for all the medicines and drugs that are in the market.
As long as there is information or transaction that represents an agreement or record, the Blockchain technology can record, encrypt, sustain and protect that information for eternity.
Blockchain technology in Healthcare is, without any doubt, a disruptive innovation that cuts across several fields. Stakeholders in the healthcare industry are equally enthusiastic and positive about the opportunities afforded by Blockchain in healthcare, investing heavily in the distributed ledger technologies and innovations to promote more efficient healthcare systems. The industry is booming and the right market to invest in.