Have you ever thought of a scenario where all your medical records and reports are stored in a bank locker with full protection? Sounds crazy isn’t it? Like banks, you can store all your medical records in a common secured system.
That is what can happen when a technology like blockchain in healthcare is used. The only difference could be that the medical records will be stored electronically on a secured network.
You could have noticed that lot of tech conferences, forums and seminars happening across the globe on blockchain. Tech experts are betting high on Blockchain and are expecting it to dominate the entire business world. Let us see what makes it so promising and exciting.
What really is a blockchain? Is it really a new concept?
Blockchain is a method of storing data/set of records in a common location using cryptography in order to secure it and at the same time accessible for authorized people.
This technology is considered as one of the safest method to secure confidential information. The people who have access to this data can add new things to the existing ones but will not be able to modify it.
Little History on Blockchain
- The actual concept of Blockchain technology using cryptography was described as early as 1991.
- But the real concept of blockchain was implemented through bit coin currency in 2009.
- Bit coin transactions really picked up by 2016.
- It is only after 2016, businesses tried adopting this technology in their business model. Predominantly, it is used in the financial sector. As of now this is used only for financial transactions. However, it has a larger scope to be utilized in all sectors.
When should you consider blockchain for your Business?
Blockchain in healthcare should not be utilized just for the sake of using a new technology. Before implementing it, we should think about the objective behind it.
Will blockchain in healthcare solve a bigger challenge or a minor challenge? If the solution provided by blockchain is going to solve a minor problem, then you should think twice before implementing it.
It is because introducing this technology is not an easy task. It involves lot of time, money and effort. On the other hand, if it is going to provide a solution for a major challenge, then it can be implemented.
But we need to follow a given set of basic guidelines. These are given below in the form of a flowchart. This flowchart was created by Hyperledger. I found this flowchart simpler to explain when blockchain can be utilized in a business set up.
In the chart, we can easily understand, the various scenarios when a blockchain in healthcare can be considered as a solution. Let us see it one by one.
- Find out whether the current set up requires sharing of a common database.
- Find out whether multiple people are involved in the process.
- The most important point to be noted is whether the involved parties have conflict of interest or totally unknown to each other.
- Check whether the rules are uniform for the involved parties.
- Find out whether the process involves a fixed set of objectives
- Check whether the transaction rules does not change frequently
If all the above mentioned points has “YES” as an answer, then you can go for blockchain technology. Otherwise, you will have do a rethink on implementing blockchain in healthcare system.
How blockchain can be used in Health Care?
In Health care sector, blockchain can be a solution for patients and hospitals. It can be utilized in lot of areas where data is involved. Let us look at the various possibilities of blockchain in the health care.
Centralized Information Access
Blockchain can make all the health records of patients at one place. Since the information will be accessible to all the registered hospitals and health centers, the data cannot be accessed by unauthorized people. The advantage of having it centralized enables medical reports and patient history to be exchanged easily. As a result, the diagnosis and treatment can be provided much faster.
Patient need not maintain any medical records
Since all the medical and diagnosis reports will be maintained in blockchain, the patient need not carry or maintain any physical reports and files. The hassles of carrying and maintaining medical reports will be reduced.
Blockchain helps patients to have complete control of his medical records. He can decide on what information he can give the access to a doctor or hospital. Patient is the key person who has access to all his medical records. So the patient does not have to worry about his privacy.
Time plays a major role in hospitals especially during an emergency. In the current scenario, the patient in emergency, needs to be tested for everything before giving treatment. Time lost during this stage can be crucial for treatment of the patient. Through blockchain it is easier and faster to know the various conditions of a patient during emergency. So the treatment can be started much quicker.
Better Data accuracy
We often come across lot of mistakes in medical reports in our name, age, date of birth, and so on. Each medical report will have different data.We generally take it casually and will not put effort to correct it.
When it comes to insurance claims, most of the claims get rejected due to these small mistakes. It takes lot of time to make the changes at the claiming stage.
When it comes to blockchain technology, the data entered once cannot be changed at any stage unless the patient himself asks for a change. As a result, we can maintain better accuracy of the data.
Secured Patient Records
Medical record is a very personal thing for a person. Since almost all hospitals maintain patient medical records electronically on a computer system, there is a possibility of cyber attack if not secured properly.
Even though blockchain is also maintained electronically, it uses cryptography which is the best available method to protect data. So we can be sure that the patient records are safe and secured.
Reduced Fraudulent Claims
US justice department have recovered $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments in 2018. Out of which $2.5 billion was related to health care sector. In the past nine years, the fraudulent claims have been exceeding $2 billion in the health care industry.
To reduce this, blockchain technology can be the biggest solution. Since the patient data is secured through cryptography, it is very difficult to do fraudulent claims.
Since the technology involves maintaining of data electronically on a a data server, the patient and hospitals need not maintain paper documents. All the reports, scans, paper records can be stored and retrieved whenever required. So blockchain paves way to create a paperless system.
Given above are some of the areas where blockchain can create impact in the health care domain. However, there are lot more areas where blockchain can be implemented.
Is Blockchain all ready to be integrated into the system?
Advanced technologies like Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence have made their debut in the healthcare industry undoubtedly. But it is needless to say that healthcare is a little behind in realizing its full potential. Both Blockchain and AI are advanced technologies. To integrate them into a helpful system, researchers should develop unique tools using them.
In the case of the healthcare industry, the slow pace of development can be attributed to the sensitivity of the shared information. The healthcare industry deals with a significant load of patient health information. Since one necessary condition of Blockchain is equal access to all the stakeholders, the data breach is a recurring issue.
However, researchers are optimistic that this issue can be overcome in many ways. The central pain point here is the protection of sensitive health information. If developers can build a system where the information shared on the Blockchain is not personally identifiable, then they can take full advantage of the system.
If you find any other way to utilize in the health care sector, do share your thoughts in comment session. Do a favor by sharing this article with those who are interested in Blockchain technology. Thanks for reading. For more technology related news in health care visit this page.