By Karim Babay, CEO, HealthSapiens.
We can all agree the healthcare system in the United States is in dire need of an overhaul. Technological advances propel us into the twenty-first century, but the way data is created, maintained, and shared is archaic and confusing (and deliberately-so.) Instead of collaboration and transparency, healthcare is (in the eyes of many) a confusing minefield littered with smoke and mirrors.
Many people (even those with insurance) forgo treatment through choice or necessity–hoping things will get better–and instead end up in the emergency room. This adds bloat to an already-overtaxed, inefficient ecosystem, and patients end up footing the bill.
What does this have to do with blockchain? Well, blockchain thrives in an environment where lots of parties (who don’t trust each other) need to have consensus on the “correct” version of the truth. Broadly-speaking, blockchain helps integrate layers of trust and efficiency that have otherwise been missing in healthcare. It is essentially a distributed database that can’t be “gamed”, as any attempts by bad actors to change records to “bend the truth” are impractical and improbable.
Put another way: blockchain rewards desirable behavior (truth, accuracy, information flow), while helping to mitigate undesirable behavior (ex: lying, cheating, stealing.) Truth and accuracy breed possibility.
Imagine a world where every single ingredient inside every single pharmaceutical you take is traced from start to finish, so you know you’re not being poisoned, misled or ripped-off. Imagine having verifiable reviews from actual doctors based on verifiable outcomes to help you compare healthcare procedures and practitioners just like you would compare insurance or blenders.
Imagine being compensated for taking better care of your own health, or for securely-sharing your medical data to help advance research. All of this is possible with blockchain technology (and more.) Long-term, blockchain technology has tremendous potential when paired with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), where meaningful healthcare research can be advanced, shedding new light on trends and unlocking a holistic, real-time picture of the global healthcare landscape.
With all its positives, blockchain isn’t itself a magic, one-size-fits-all solution to the many problems plaguing healthcare. However, what blockchain technology can do is provide a framework that opens up the secure flow of information between healthcare consumers, practitioners, and everyone else in between. Access to more and better information helps streamline inefficiencies, thus reducing costs and elevating the level of care that can be provided.
With healthcare powered by blockchain technology, it shifts from a zero-sum game to a collaborative game where everybody does better by helping each other out. Everybody wins.