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Transforming Healthcare through Blockchain

H

ealthcare domain is changing at a fast pace, and technology is playing an important role in it. Health Care professionals are under pressure to capture, leverage and storelarge amounts of information. This surge in data has resulted in growthin the tools and technologies ranging from IoT enabled sensors to apps in smartwatches.

Digital systems capture images from physical assets which are then transmitted to devices or applications. This allows integration of various formats of data with solutions like EMR systems for better patient care.

In this scenario of increased digitization of the medical industry, healthcare domain faces several inefficiencies and an instance of fraud. Blockchain technology is poised to change the way healthcare providers operate. It aims to place the patientat the centre of the ecosystem and resolve the inefficiencies and high costs that plague it. Blockchain increases the privacy, security, and interoperability of data by providing a new model for storing and sharing health-related information.

Without sounding repetitive let us understand what is blockchain? It is a framework that creates immutable and distributable ledger of records that is distributed between secure networks. Blockchain distributes records in a manner that addresses the concern that governments, individuals and consumers have around data breach.

Let us look at some of the advantages of using Blockchain in Healthcare-


Cost

Due to the decentralised storage of data, health care providers, such as hospitals, are no longer required to store patient data in their systems. As each set of information is stored by blockchain, a distributed ledger spread over a network, the overall cost of data storage is lowered. Moreover, the system also allows for easy scalability, further reducing potential costs.


Data Privacy

The data stored in Blockchain is immutable, a fact that makes it extremely vital for the healthcare industry where the privacy of medical records is absolutely critical. With the distributed ledger framework of Blockchain the function of a central data repository administrator is not there. This makes it difficult for hackers or people with vested interest to change or breach data.

For example, patients can now donate their medical records to medical researches while being completely anonymous. The identity of a patient is not disclosed, but researchers can use their data in scientific research with ease.


Accessibility

The nature of data stored on blockchain is such that it is available from anywhere. The standardised storage of data means that healthcare providers have ease of access for anything from patient records to information regarding prescriptions. As the permanent healthcare records are storedin the Blockchain,doctors or pharmacists can access them without a patient having to narrate their medical histories. A patient may no longer be required to store their medical information on paper or any other platform, and medical professionals can efficiently do their job.


Transparency

As the information is on a decentralized and publicly accessible platform, the chances of medical fraud, counterfeit drugs found in the supply chain, fraudulent billing, etc. are reduced to nil. This benefits both the patients and the healthcare professionals by helping to fix one of its most pervasive problems, fraudulence.


Interoperability

Interoperability is the critical feature that drives blockchain technology to be accepted as the gold standard in data storage. The data is stored using APIs that allow data sharing in real time over a trusted network. It also eliminates the need for permission, which means that the right data can be accessed at the right time. This can also eliminate the need for the costly problem of data reconciliation.


Data Management

The health industry is suffering from data fatigue. It has massive amounts of data that may be irrelevant or damaged. Using blockchain technology will provide some relief as the burden of storing information will be shared uniformly and no one entity will be required to save or provide said data.


To wrap up

Blockchain has immense potential within healthcare as it could bring patients at the centre of the payor provider ecosystem by giving them the capability to control how their data is used.

Even in this context it is important to understand that Blockchain is not a panacea to what ails the current Healthcare setup. When looking at Blockchain solutions, there are quite a few things to keep in mind:

Is Blockchain really needed? Will the current setup work equally well if it used another technology framework, or existing technology can fit the bill as well?

What is a reason that Blockchain would succeed?

As Blockchain ecosystem evolves, there will an opportunity to deploy applications built around this framework. Even then, there are benefits to data being centralized, like responsiveness, andsecurity.

Healthcare domain will certainly bring about a balance between these aspects with solutions that can completely transform processes, delivery models, and information exchange in healthcare.

Current EHRsremaincomplex due to their focus on acquisition and information security of data. Blockchain offersdata security andstreamlines legacyhealthcare solutions.