Imagine how accessible healthcare would be if we lived in a decentralized world of medical services. A new system, one that could be built upon the blockchain infrastructure, would prove as a necessity to patients, as well as practicing physicians.
Currently, medical services are centralized and operating out of one main unit: hospitals. These valuable infrastructures were once used as a safe haven for those who couldn’t afford house calls from doctors, but have now become the more expensive resource for anyone seeking medical help. At times, that help can be extremely difficult to attain. We need to decentralize medical services in order to give a larger majority of the population the help and treatment they deserve, in a more efficient manner.
If we actually created a “healthcare blockchain”, what would it look like, exactly? By building medical services atop blockchain technology, we would essentially be storing critical information such as health records, prior prescriptions, and procedural history, in a much more safe and secure space than we have today. This information would be easily accessible and shared only amongst authorized and relevant parties – physicians, emergency personnel, and specialists – and in return, will streamline treatment, waiting times in hospitals, and offer patients complete control over their personal details.
What makes critical data on the blockchain so secure, though? The blockchain structure is composed of a series of blocks, each one encrypted with cryptography. This cryptography protects and seals every record stored, transaction made, and maneuver executed between two parties on the block it took place within. These blocks, which would contain a patient’s data and history, are impenetrable by hackers or unauthorized parties who wish to access medical information for their own personal gain or external research.
Specific medical services that take place online now include electronic diagnostic tests, pharmaceutical prescriptions, telemonitoring, knowledge management, real-time monitoring of patient vitals, appointment scheduling, and more. All of these services have the potential to be performed on a blockchain infrastructure, to be disclosed between the proper medical personnel and the patient, regardless of which electronic medical system is being operated.
The benefits of decentralized medical services for patients is as clear as day. Patients will have optimal control and access to diagnostic testing, that can take place electronically. Because each blockchain maneuver is secured by cryptography, a patient can retrieve his or her test results in an online and entirely private format without the threat of being hacked. Decentralized prescription services will streamline treatment and care, helping patients avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital or clinic. On the blockchain, the electronic transmission of prescriptions from doctors to pharmacists to patients is not only doable, but performed in a faster and secure manner.
Additionally, the ability to schedule appointments and manage healthcare information becomes simplified on the blockchain. Why? Because each patient’s history, insurance information, and personal details are also stored within a previous block. Therefore, there’s no need to do anything other than schedule your slot in real-time and simply show up to the appointment. When managing healthcare information, decentralized services will also be able to relay air-tight, confidential, knowledge management details to patients that pertain to a particular disease or condition they may be struggling with.
The benefits of decentralized medical services for practicing physicians are also plentiful. They can retrieve patient data in times of crisis without delay, as well as electronic information specifically regarding protocols or standards to use when diagnosing and administering treatment. At times, one physician simply isn’t enough. The creation of virtual healthcare teams who collaborate on patient data or information through digital equipment can be powered by blockchain technology. This technological teamwork accelerates communication and response times amongst several separate parties simultaneously.
One of the most important benefits, though, is the ability to collect patient-level health data through the use of electronic devices, which also enables telemonitoring from a distance; telemonitoring has the potential to take place through blockchain technology, allowing physicians to monitor patients’ functions and vitals through mobile applications, devices, or stationary at-home equipment. Telemonitoring collects data and information from cooperating patients through a series of questions about two to three times per day, while also gathering details such as heart rate, blood pressure, body weight, and temperature. Medical professionals can check on patients’ current health status or symptoms in real-time, helping to prevent medical emergencies and frequent trips to the hospital.
Decentralized medical services will provide medical professionals and patients with excess care that can be easily attained. By placing medical services on the blockchain and taking advantage of its security, as well as its ability to track and encrypt personal information, we can achieve an advanced stage of healthcare that provides methods of aid that are currently hard to attain. For patients, the option to receive prescriptions online without being hacked is convenient and effective. For doctors, the ability to perform their job effectively and efficiently with a new kind of technological support, can be life-saving. All of this, will streamline medical services and offer another option outside of waiting at clinics and hospitals.