The blockchain is the buzzword for today’s business world and is expanding continuously mainly in the financial industry, but at the same time it is also transforming the healthcare industry. Pharmacy and healthcare industries employ Blockchain to improve privacy, streamline efficiencies, and enhance patient safety to provide a higher level of clinical care to the users. It can be assumed that is just the beginning of Blockchainuse in the healthcare industry. All healthcare professionals, tech innovators, and other industry professionals are coming up with all the possible solutions to serve the healthcare industry in a super-efficient way with the help of Blockchain Technology.
This post is to see the impact of Blockchain in the Healthcare Sector. Let’s first discuss Blockchain technology and then understand the uses of this technology in the healthcare system.
What is Blockchain?
Firstly, Blockchain principles were applied to the financial world and used to operate Bitcoins. The blockchain is a shared and distributed ledger used by the business network to record transactions and tracks assets. Through Blockchain, the value of anything can be tracked and therefore risks involved with investments are reduced considerably.
This business network is highly efficient and economical as it reduces all the intermediary requirements and efforts. It uses a consensus model for information validation, so it is less vulnerable. Also, the Blockchain transactions are always more authenticated, secure, and verifiable.
In other words, Blockchain can be considered as a huge decentralized database for a network of computers and users that have no ownership. This network is totally transparent due to below-listed reasons:
- Once the information is entered by the user, it cannot be changed
- Any user can see the Blockchain changes
- Changes are recorded along with a detailed chain of timestamps
- Each update of the block gets connected back to the original block
The overall amount invested in the Blockchain technology by organizations is small today but it is continuously and aggressively increasing. Many major business organizations like Microsoft and IBM are also incorporating Blockchain in their customer support systems. There are many other big companies exploring the value of this integration into their operations. Some of such Companies are listed below:
- Starbucks used Blockchain to trace beans globally.
- Walmart used Blockchain in digital shopping and vendor payment.
- JD.com used Blockchain to accelerate AI development.
In the healthcare sector, the use of Blockchain has already been started and has a good impact too. As per the IBM survey, 56% of the healthcare companies will start using Blockchain commercially by 2020. It has the following benefits for a business organization:
- Reduced fraud and cybercrime
- Improved efficiency, as ownership and responsibilities get streamlined
- Timely follow-ups to avoid long-term problems
- Better stakeholder trust as the changes are totally transparent
How Blockchain can Impact the Healthcare Industry
Initially, most of the attention around Blockchain was centered on cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin. But now the scenario has been changed and many other applications like economics, healthcare, legal, education, and others have started using Blockchain. In the Healthcare sector, Blockchain can solve many challenges potentially like patient data transfer around the world without compromising its security. There are few more challenges that could be solved by the usage of Blockchain in this industry, let’s have a look below:
1). Reduced Administrative Cost by Third-Party Intermediary Elimination
Studies have proved that a major cost is paid to the administrative departments by the business organizations or employers or the US workers. This is a serious problem as it increases the overall healthcare expenditure, while Blockchain technology can be used to avoid the intermediary by using smart contracts. Moreover, centralized data storage can cause errors and duplications, whereas Blockchain is a decentralized system that is more transparent and immutable.
2). Keeps Patient Identity Safe and Private
By using private keys, the patient’s identity can be kept safe and they can confirm their identity within different health organizations that cannot be identified by anyone else. Hence, patient’s data can be kept only within the systems, not with the institutions.
3). Interoperability is Enabled among Providers
Interoperability means that various healthcare organizations can share the patient’s information in a secured manner
For instance: If a patient goes to see a doctor in any local clinic, but he still wants to get a second opinion then the Blockchain technology should be used here so that patients don’t have to take their documents or medical reports to the second doctor but they are shared automatically.
In this way, through Blockchain technology, patients can safeguard the current state of their medical report, along with the entire medical industry.
4). Payment Preauthorization
Sometimes preauthorization of the patient may be required that may prove to be more time consuming and costly task. Any missing patient information or follow-up details may require time and staff support. It may also make the payment process slower. Use of Blockchain technology can make this process quicker and automated that can simplify the whole process of payment collection.
5). Supply Chain and Drug Development Integration
By increasing the accessibility of patient’s record, Blockchain can facilitate the drug development and help in reducing counterfeit drug implications that currently costs a lot for the pharmaceutical industries. Streamlined and coordinated information flow can make the drug development and supply chain process smoother.
6). Improved Medical Research
Central storage of clinical reports of the patients helps in improving the treatment protocols and as a result, improved care can be offered to the patient. Currently, there is no system that can help in improving the research by storing medical records. By the use of Blockchain technology, medical innovations can see the difference.
Final Words: Digital technologies are continuously improving a significant number of services and business processes. Similarly, Blockchain technology also has a great impact on the healthcare sector. The industry needs to focus on the potential implications of this technology to evaluate its effectiveness.