By Maria Redka, technology writer, MLSDev.
Blockchain offers countless opportunities for growth and development of many industries. Sectors like finance, banking, government and public services, education and commerce have already taken the first steps at embracing this revolutionary technology.
One of the industries blockchain can change beyond recognition is healthcare. In this post, we will cover the opportunities blockchain offers for the healthcare sector, and the present use cases of blockchain in healthcare.
Why does healthcare need blockchain?
Healthcare industry has a lot of issues on a local, national and global levels. It has been struggling with data collection, storage, and transfer problems for a long time now. Federal regulations and rules make all the healthcare procedures lengthy and tedious. The current healthcare system does not manage patient data well. Pretty often it happens so that one patient cannot gather all of their medical records in one place and in one format quickly, or cannot gather the needed information at all.
Unfortunately, critical patient information is in most cases scattered across different healthcare institutions in different formats. What makes it even harder for healthcare providers and patients is that data management systems and security regulations often vary across different institutions and states. What’s even worse, many medical records have mistakes in them, and the outdated data management systems cannot trace and fix these mistakes. It all boils down to this: in extreme situations and in time of urgent need, it is practically impossible to access all the needed patient information easily, quickly and securely.
What can blockchain do here? With the help of this innovative technology, healthcare providers will be able to facilitate their data management processes beyond recognition. Blockchain can help healthcare providers collect, exchange, analyze and secure medical records seamlessly. It will give doctors and patients an opportunity to access any needed patient data from anywhere without tolerating the privacy or security of any party.
Can blockchain be a panacea for the healthcare industry? One thing is for sure — this technology can help the healthcare system improve healthcare services greatly without rising the costs of the corresponding processes significantly.
Blockchain and patient data handling
Blockchain can help the healthcare sector solve the issue with patient data storage. Potentially, it can cancel all the cultural, geographical, political and religious limitations that interfere with patient data handling nowadays. When the patient data is stored in the blockchain, it can be processed, managed and transferred seamlessly and securely. It means that in times of greatest need and urgency all the required data will be there to save a life.
MedRec, an Ethereum-based system, is one of the first blockchain-powered solutions that aim at facilitating patient data management. MedRec makes it easy for patients and doctors to view and manage patient data securely.
Blockchain and medical research
Currently, the progress of medical research is being held back by patient data sharing security issues. Many patients are reluctant to share their health information with a third-party as they are afraid that it will not be used as intended. What’s more, regulations and systems of medical research are different across the world. A blockchain-based clinical research data system can facilitate patient data handling and make every involved party comply with the data management regulations.
Ambrosus, a well-known IoT company, aims at launching their own blockchain system for clinical trials. It is meant to make clinical trials more secure, cost-effective, fast and reliable.
Blockchain and drug supply management
Healthcare loses billions of dollars annually due to faults in the drug supply management chain. Counterfeit drugs and recalled drugs undermine the industry greatly, and there is a hope that blockchain can help solve this issue. The blockchain technology can increase the transparency of the drug supply chain. It can discover, eliminate and prevent fraud from happening. Instant data transfer in blockchain will give the healthcare providers a chance to handle any issues like drug recall faster and more effectively.
FarmaTrust is a blockchain-powered healthcare startup that aims to eliminate counterfeit drugs. This system aims at controlling drug manufacturing, shipping, storage and logistics.
Blockchain and health insurance
Did you know that insurance fraud is one of the greatest pain points for healthcare? People all over the world outdo themselves and come with more and more ways of getting insurance money illegally. The flaws in the current healthcare systems allow insurance fraud to flourish. Blockchain can help the industry deal with this issue. In case a health insurance plan of a person is stored in the blockchain, there is not a single detail that can be changed on the quiet. Any action of any party will be recorded in the blockchain, which will make them comply with the conditions of the contract.
Nexus Mutual is currently working on a blockchain-powered solution for the insurance industry. The company aims to replace current insurance models with smart-contract-driven mutuals.
As we all know, the healthcare industry has a lot of issues that prevent it from keeping up with modern technology development. Blockchain is one of the most promising technology solutions that can facilitate this sector.
Currently, there are already some successful blockchain use cases in drug supply management, patient data handling, medical research, and insurance. Yet, these are only the first steps and there is so much more to be done. We’re excited to see how the tandem of blockchain and healthcare will change the world in the nearest time.