In the 1960s the average medical cost per person was just $160. According to a report by CNBC, an average American spends nearly $4,000 toward health care each year, at this rate, it is expected to strike $5,000 by 2023. The healthcare field today is rife with corruption due to extensive third party involvement. This has caused the massive spike in the costs of treatment and medicines. By introducing blockchain technology and smart contracts into the healthcare system we can mitigate these issues to a great extent.
So, what is a smart contract? It is essentially a self-executing, legally and ethically compliant contract between two entities that are integrated with blockchain using cryptographic coding. Traditionally, if you wanted to set up a contract you would go to a lawyer, pay them and will have to wait to get the contract. In the case of a smart contract, you can fill in the contact details and make the payment. The contract with a unique code will be delivered to you, in your account. The smart contract not only simplifies the process but also executes on its own when the predefined conditions are fulfilled. By introducing the smart contract into the health care system it will make both general and preventative care more accessible to patients because of all the work it automates.
Let’s see how blockchain can solve the pain points faced in the healthcare sector.
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Whenever we sign up for a new service, we have to reveal a lot of our personal information and all that information is up for sale. This is the case with our personal medical data. There is always a possibility of it being used for a third party’s business or marketing and that’s a violation of our right to privacy.
By implementing a smart contract you will be able to retain full control over your data. If you have to go to a healthcare institution for their services, you can ask the institution to digitally sign a smart contract that prevents any unauthorized alteration or duplication of your data. All of your medical information will be stored on a peer to peer network and it will be watermarked with a unique code so as to pinpoint who has caused the leaked and where it happened. You will be provided with a private key so that you can decide who will gain access to your medical information and who can alter it. Smart contracts in blockchain will protect medical confidentiality to the fullest.
According to an article published in the Forbes magazine, pharmaceutical companies worldwide suffer an estimated loss of about $200 billion dollars every year due to counterfeit drugs. The pharmaceutical business is one of the largest industries in the world and also the one where a lot of fraud takes place. There are instances when parties cannot even be sure that they are getting the right and genuine medicines that the doctor prescribed.
By integrating smart contracts in this sector, we can slowly but surely stop the flow of counterfeit drugs into the market. Implementing the right technology, we would be able to trace the progression of drugs from the production to supply phase. Each ingredient of the drug will be tagged and that data will be stored in the Blockchain where it will be protected from alterations. Once the drug has been registered, it is impossible for anyone to intervene and make it vanish.
Another major issue we face today is pharmacies selling outdated drugs and this is also something that can be eliminated by using smart contracts. Implementing a smart contract between the pharmaceutical company and their customers will ensure that only authentic product reaches the pharmacies. If even one of the conditions in the smart contract is not satisfied, the sale and purchase of the drugs will be void until the parties rectify the problems.
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Usually, after a medical procedure, you would have to make many phone calls to your insurance company and go through a time-consuming process to get your medical claim. Sometimes even after going through all those difficult procedures, you still might not be able to claim the full amount. But if a smart contract is set up between you and the insurance company, then this process can be simplified. If you are insured, then the smart contract will self-execute once the medical procedure is complete and all the terms and conditions have been fulfilled. Receipts of surgeries could be stored on the blockchain and automatically sent to insurance providers as proof-of-delivery. This way, you don’t have any reason for concern and this medical procedure you had to undergo will be something you can forget about quickly and get to live your life.
In the present scenario, if you need to get an organ transplant, you have to get your name on the transplant list and have to wait until you find a matching donor. It is also really expensive to get into an international transplant waiting list. It’s also possible that you won’t find a donor in time. This system can be revolutionized with a smart contract. This list, if maintained on blockchain would be more secure and transparent. Using smart contracts, people looking for a donor and potential donors can be matched. A contract must be made between the donee and the institution. You will then be placed on the list considering the seriousness of the medical condition. So if you are in an emergency situation then you will be on top of the list and as a donor is found you will be the first to be considered. As the process is transparent, it will make things fair for everyone; you will know where you stand in the list.
Blockchain creates an opportunity to reduce the complexity in healthcare. It makes the process secure and more trustworthy. Healthcare is a field where everyone is ready to go an extra mile to make sure that things are done right. Here, smart contracts ensure that everything is done according to the need of the patient and that everyone is treated fairly.