Sharing, analyzing and verifying data is key to more efficient healthcare and blockchain technology may be the vehicle to get us there. A blockchain powered health information exchange could unlock the true value of interoperability. Blockchain-based systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate the friction and costs of current intermediaries.
So to comprehend the topic well, let us start with “What is Blockchain?”– Blockchain became one of the hot topics of the year 2018 and it came into the picture because of the overall buzz about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin but it should be noted that it was invented in 2008 which is more than ten years ago at this point of time. Blockchain is not that complexed as it seems to be, so to breakdown it in simple terms it can be referred as a digital ledger which keeps records of all transactions taking place on a peer to peer network. All information transferred via blockchain is encrypted and recorded, meaning once the block is created and added to the chain, it cannot be altered.
Breaking down Barriers- What Blockchain can do for Healthcare
Blockchain in Healthcare reduces cost by eliminating manual processes like reconciliation between multiple isolated ledgers and administrative processes, provides increased speed of transactions and settlements through immediate distribution and increased security through use of cryptography. It also reduces fraud by time-stamping entries and sharing a common, immutable ledger across the network and reduces risk of single points of failure and attack through distributed network nodes.
The current state of health care records is disjointed and stovepiped (transmitting information higher in a hierarchy while bypassing intervening levels that remain uninformed about this information) due to a lack of common architectures and standards. Health care providers track and update a patient’s common clinical dataset each time a medical service is provided. This information includes standard data, such as the patient’s gender and date of birth, as well as unique information pursuant to the specific service provided, such as the procedure performed, care plan, and other notes. Traditionally, this information is tracked in a database within a singular organization or within a defined network of health care stakeholders. This flow of information originating from the patient through the health care organization each time a service is performed does not need to stop at the individual organizational level. Instead, health care organizations could take one more step and direct a standardized set of information present in each patient interaction to a nationwide blockchain transaction layer.
Even with the use of digital files, data loss continues to be one of the biggest problems in healthcare which resulted in $1.7 billion in damages and equivalent to 2,000 lives lost in the US. Adopting new technology can be intimidating, especially for an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare. Blockchain technology has already been adopted by several organizations, but before embracing this trend, one needs full-time IT experts to assess the systems and manage security. The stakes of security breaches are high – not just in monetary costs and losses to industry providers but to patients whose personal information is at risk. Blockchain technology holds a great deal of promise for the healthcare industry, and it is time for all providers and researchers to explore the potential.
If you are looking to understand blockchain’s implications in the healthcare sector or in your business, drop us an email on [email protected] or schedule a free consultation with our team of blockchain experts who can guide you through the blockchain implementation in a specific use case.