Many people immediately think of cryptocurrency when they hear the word ‘blockchain’, but a few know that this technology could be applied to a surprising number of fields and industries. This time on ‘What the future looks like’, we take a look at how blockchain aspires to change the healthcare industry.
What makes blockchain a potential contender in the field of healthcare is its ability to store data in immutable blocks, which cannot be interfered with unless using specific key codes. When integrated with healthcare, blockchain can help save and track patient data securely and privately as well as many other applications.
Currently, the distribution and management of patients' medical history has been is chaotic. Every time we visit a different hospital, healthcare centers or use health tracking devices, each of these facilities and devices are only able to keep a separate record that covers an aspect of one’s medical history.
The blockchain will enable us to assemble all medical documents and records in an all-in-one, orderly and constantly-updated manner. Every new change made will be verified and stamped to the blockchain. This will provide medical experts and patients themselves a total picture of what their health status looks like, how it has changed over time and who made the changes.
Talking about the potentials of blockchain in the healthcare industry, Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston - John Halamka said, “Most healthcare data is centralized at the level of a corporation, healthcare facility or government registry... The blockchain is decentralized and therefore not impacted by the behavior of any one organization. In the future, we might see blockchain as a component of a system in which patients serve as stewards of their own data, rather than relying on any central source”.
Aside from revolutionizing the way medical records are stored, blockchain is also said to help improve data security within the healthcare industry.
Patients records are no longer under threats of being stolen or manipulated due to human error or intended crimes.
Pharmaceutical companies could reduce pharmaceutical fraud or theft by employing blockchain to track movements of drugs from manufacturers to buyers.
Increase drug approvals processing time
Prevent insurance frauds from both service providers and patients and clarify the claim process.
Experts are highly optimistic about the future of blockchain and healthcare. They expect the application of blockchain to become more common in the next few years. According to Halamka, “like any innovation, we’ll go through a hype phase, a disappointment phase and eventually achieve broad adoption. Expect three years before there is universal adoption of blockchain related products”.
Every system has its flaws, but the healthcare industry has been operating over the past few decades without the security it needs. Blockchain technology has the key to solve those issues, and it is now providers and researchers’ turn to explore the total potential.