Today’s healthcare ecosystem is struggling to fulfill the expectations of the patients.
If you ever wondered how blockchain can transform the healthcare industry, this is the article for you. It is found, utilization of blockchain technology is so effective and powerful that it can eradicate some of the important issues of the world.
The present health record of the patient is highly fragmented with security and privacy concerns and lacks efficient interoperability. Undoubtedly, blockchain comes with an immense potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry, placing the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem.
SimplyVital Health, a US-based company developed a healthcare blockchain product that offers progress tracking of patients after they leave the hospital and decentralize the documents of patients maintaining a cap on their data.
Its immutability, permission access, trust, proof of ownership and interoperability properties are offering a new age efficient value transaction and communication.
Let’s revise what is blockchain, in simple words.
A blockchain is a distributed database that can record and store transaction data in the form of time-stamped ‘blocks’ which is linked to peer network in such a way that no one can change any transaction data.
It is seen in 2017, the blockchain solutions for healthcare were primarily used for:
- Controlling counterfeit medicines.
- Audit trails for doctors, healthcare providers & hospitals (provider network)
- Value-based healthcare (healthcare providers get paid based on patient health outcomes).
Applications of blockchain in healthcare
Health record management
The health record of patients that goes into an Electronic Health Record can be denoted as transactions over blockchain. By using blockchain based applications, a patient can hold the ownership of medical record and control care providers’ access to it through ‘smart contract’. Smart contracts work here as data sharing agreements between patients and care providers that are automatically executed.
Also, using blockchain technology to personal health wallet can help in data management. A patient can share his or her data with the help of this health wallet, mainly with the clinicians to view and edit the data. Further, this wallet can be connected to wearable devices for easy recording and sharing the health data with clinicians.
Patients can also link their health insurance to their wallet for easy accessibility. This blockchain-based wallet is usually designed to help the patient use it as a one-stop solution to all their health insurance.
Incidents like inadvertently switching patient documents are reported across the world. A common challenge with present health record databases is mismatching or duplication of records. This often leads to unwanted harassment of both patients and hospitals.
The cryptographic methods, for instance, hashing & digital signatures and interoperability property of blockchain technology can solve the issue and ensure accurate patient identification.
Billing and claims management
One of the issues in the healthcare sector is fraudulent claims and billing. Filing and processing of medical claims related to patient diagnoses, treatments and medicines can be made transparent and secure with blockchain solution. There are intermediaries involved to verify and confirm the claim information to ensure less time lag for claim processing and reduce the administrative cost. The blockchain solution automates the required workflows, and help reduce the challenges.
Even this cutting-edge technology allows for the implementation of new standards in managing insurance claims. The present process of claiming medical insurance is onerous and time-consuming mainly because of the verification requirements. The verification process on the blockchain platform is faster and ensures more accuracy and authenticity. Insurance claiming through blockchain would reduce the load and improve the transparency of the process.
Patients may move cities, change health plans or switch doctors for treatment. This leads to difficulty when it comes to sharing the records. If the medical data is stored over a database, it can be easily distributed with the clinical researchers and doctors worldwide. The decentralized feature of the blockchain solution lets the patients have unparalleled control over crucial clinical data. This increases the chance of medical collaboration and new research & development.
Drugs or blood traceability
The traceability property makes blockchain an ideal platform for managing the supply of drugs or blood. Authenticate and unchangeable supply chain information can reduce the threat of fake drugs. Additionally, with the controlling of counterfeit drugs, the blockchain platform is now assisting in managing blood bank records and information exchange between blood banks and hospitals.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasts that healthcare spending will increase globally to $8.7 Trillion by 2020, but the same growth is missing in terms of better patient care outcomes.
To summarize, the blockchain solution is tamper-proof. If any participants want to record any data it needs a consensus of everyone associated with that purpose. The built-in properties of blockchain technology help in tracking the complex treatment process.
In my opinion, the ease of sharing and accessing health records through blockchain can potentially lead to a surge in medical tourism breaking geographic boundaries.
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