Since it’s inception, Blockchain technology has made a big impact in the finance sector by the introduction of blockchain based cryptocurrencies. This decentralized and trustless system offers many benefits such as cutting out the middleman, reducing transaction fees for overseas payment etc. Over the past couple of years, Blockchain has made its penetration into a lot of other industries with its promising benefits and use cases. According to Transparency Market Research, the global blockchain technology market is expected to grow $20 billion(!) by the end of 2024. The overall market is anticipated to exhibit a 58.7 percent annual growth between 2016 and 2024.
With the potential to bring a revolutionary as well as evolutionary changes, blockchain is expected to become a game changer in the healthcare sector as well. Here, the priority is to make sure that the patient’s health is not compromised. The need of the hour for healthcare business owners is to slash out the unnecessary cost that is associated with running the business without compromising on the quality of service they offer.
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Corner to corner we have hospitals and health institutions. Most of the data collected from each of these institutions are not shared outside. Obviously due to security reasons. However, having access to all the data combined from all the health institutions can help authorities to derive useful information. For example, the occurrence pattern of a disease or the geographical influence of a particular pandemic. We don’t yet have such a system which unifies data from all the sources because health organizations are skeptical to share their data due to security concerns.
However, the solution is to build a blockchain network where all the health institutions can record data without revealing sensitive information. The network offers a tamperproof as well as immutable storage. Blockchain technology is a powerful tool to bolt a system where trust is the key element. By using blockchain technology, regulatory bodies can share the patient information without revealing the identity of the patient or any other sensitive information. This stream will help authorities to identify the pandemics or threats so they can take necessary actions to control the problem in a timely manner.
Data security is a major concern in the healthcare sector. The goal of utilizing blockchain in the healthcare sector is to unify and align the health care experiences while supporting secure medical record sharing. Medical and health records have gone digital in the past few years and now its far more vulnerable to theft —and far more valuable to hackers, who can sell a complete medical record for more than $1,000 on the darknet. It is estimated that everyone in the U.S. will have had their healthcare data compromised by 2024 if online theft keeps accelerating at the current pace.
Blockchain technology presents the solution to safeguard information and can prevent unauthorized access to information from an unauthorized party. Blockchain can be used to break up data into chunks and store it in a distributed network, encrypt the data so that only authorized personnel to have access to it and moreover, distribute files across a network in such a way that all files are available, even if part of the network is down. Establishing such a system will increase security in the medical, pharmaceutical industries.
Patient information is gathered across a series of personal activities, wellness activities, therapeutic service procedures and also from clinical and genetic testing services. Each patient owns his or her unique electronic health chain (EHC). With blockchain technology, the patients can pre-authorise information sharing with legitimate providers and researchers who can use the pieces of information at the time of emergencies without actually pre-sharing the data. They can provide certain encrypted keys to the providers, research personals who needs to access the data.
Billing and claims management is a process comprising of filing and processing of medical claims that related to the patient’s diagnosis, treatments, and medications. Health institutions can offer transparent and trustable billing to their customer blockchain technology. In such system, every billing event is recorded in the transparently distributed ledger which can be accessed by patient, doctors and the management. The management cannot charge a penny extra to the patients since every diagnostic billing information is recorded in the network. The patient on other hand has transparency of when they are billed for what amount. This system can also be integrated with the insurance companies such that they can auto initiate the insurance claims based on the diagnostic information added to the network and the validations given by the doctors for each of the diagnosis. The whole process of billing and claiming can be automated via smartcontracts. This provides a new experience to the patients in terms of trustability.
Over the lifetime of a person, they visit quite a lot of hospitals. Unfortunately, most times, the past health records of the patient collected in one hospital is not carried forward to the next hospital. Which makes hard for the second hospital to diagnose the patient or at least, it will take time to regather the data which was already gathered in the health record kept in the previous hospital.
A blockchain system can fix this problem due to its inherent quality of immutability. Health records of a patient can be stored in blockchain network and throughout their lifetime, all the health records are stored in it and any new hospital can access the past health record of a patient if the patients provide access to the information.
Misuse of medical research data is a serious issue that can be controlled with Blockchain technology. Proof of date is the main requirement in any research. In a blockchain network, every transaction has a timestamp and it is publicly transparent. A blockchain based system for medical research will have traceability and historicity of data, and the users possessing the time-stamped data will become its owners. Such a system can eradicate frauds happening in the clinical trial records since the ownership of a research data is based on who updates the network with the research results first.
Using blockchain, the healthcare sector can improve a lot on its operational efficiency and advance in fields of early detection of pandemics, fraud prevention and to provide a better experience to the different participants of the sector.
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