The term “blockchain” has become one of the most popular buzzwords in the realm of medical technology, and for a good reason. However, it is also a loaded term due to its ambiguity. The term blockchain is slightly different depending on the industry. This distinction and understanding are especially interesting and beneficial to the healthcare field. Simply stated, blockchain can transform the healthcare industry. Patients may be properly focused on at the heart of all operations once it gets fully deployed, which will get completely revamped with improved security, privacy, and accessibility.
But how does blockchain make all of this possible? You will explore the looming relationship between blockchain and healthcare in this research.
What Blockchain is For
Blockchain is a sophisticated technology that allows many parties to share and access data securely. In essence, blockchain can aid digital health by securely communicating data across disparate healthcare systems with patient consent.
The most innovative feature of blockchain, delivered through a carefully balanced blend of powerful cryptography and built-in incentives, eliminates the need for a centrally governing authority and instead distributes power among all participants in the blockchain ecosystem.
One of the most significant advantages of a decentralized system is that end-users – particularly consumers and businesses – would have far greater transparency and control over how their data gets utilized. As a result, one of the long-term goals of disruptive blockchain-enabled companies is to decentralize the data economy. Thus, they can reclaim power from companies that centralize large datasets for competitive advantage, rather than placing control over how personal and proprietary data gets used in the hands of people and organizations.
Blockchain Use Cases in Healthcare
New blockchain healthcare use cases emerge every day, potentially transforming the healthcare system. Many healthcare and blockchain startups are working on or have already deployed blockchain-based systems to help both professionals and patients improve their healthcare.
Blockchain is becoming a vital tool for healthcare, transforming the business worldwide by decentralizing patient health records, tracking drugs, and boosting payment choices.
Transparency in the Supply Chain
Assurance of the provenance of medical goods to establish their validity is a key concern in the healthcare sector, as it is in many others. Customers can have complete visibility and transparency of the things they are buying by using a blockchain-based system to trace items from the manufacturing site to each stage of the supply chain.
This transparency is critical for the industry, particularly in developing economies where counterfeit prescription medications are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year. It is also becoming more critical for medical equipment, which is rapidly growing as more remote health monitoring is adopted, attracting the attention of unscrupulous actors.
MediLedger is a notable example of a blockchain system that allows organizations along the prescription drug supply chain to verify the legitimacy of medicines, expiration dates, and other critical data.
FarmaTrust also plans to use its blockchain to solve the same issue.
The blockchain of FarmaTrust will get divided into four sections: Pharmaceutical firms benefit from regulatory compliance since it ensures that they are following government requirements; Track & Trace to control inventory wherever it moves; Supply Chain Visibility for when a drug is changed or altered in any manner; and finally, the Consumer Confidence App allows users to view the medication’s lifespan.
Patient-Centric Electronic Health Records
Every country and area is grappling with the issue of data silos, which means that patients and their healthcare professionals have an incomplete picture of their medical history.
According to a study released by Johns Hopkins University, medical errors resulting from poorly coordinated treatment were the third greatest cause of death in the United States in 2016. These medical errors include planned actions not executed as intended or errors of omission throughout patient records.
One possible answer to this challenge is to develop a blockchain-based medical record system that can be integrated with existing electronic medical record software and serve as a single, encompassing view of a patient’s data. It is important to highlight that actual patient data is not stored on the blockchain. Instead, each new record added to the blockchain, whether a doctor’s note, a prescription, or a test result, is converted into a unique hash function, a short string of letters and numbers. Every hash function is special, and you can only decipher it with the authorization of the data owner — the patient.
Therefore, any change to patient records and the patient’s disclosure consent gets recorded as a blockchain transaction. Medicalchain is a leading example of a company that works with healthcare providers to adopt blockchain-enabled Electronic Medical Records (EMRs).
Credential Verification of Medical Staff
You can use blockchain technology to track the experience of medical professionals in the same way that you can use it to track the provenance of a medical good. To better streamline the hiring process at healthcare organizations, companies are beginning to develop blockchain-based solutions for creating credentials for newly hired staff members. For example, ProCredEx, based in the United States, created a system based on a blockchain protocol for verifying the credentials of medical staff.
Insurance and Supply Chain Settlements with Smart Contracts
Using blockchain-based systems from companies like Chronicled and Curisium, pharmaceutical companies, medical device OEMs, wholesalers, insurers, and healthcare providers, can authenticate their identities like the following:
- Log contract details
- Track transaction of goods and services
- Current and passed invoicing details for all goods and services
This type of environment goes beyond supply chain management to enable healthcare trading partners and insurance providers to operate on entirely digital and, in some circumstances, automated contract terms.
Instead of each player having their version of contracts, they can significantly reduce disputes over payment chargeback claims for prescription medicines and other goods by having shared digital agreements between manufacturers, distributors, and healthcare organizations logged on a blockchain ledger.
While many innovative and intriguing blockchain solutions have sprouted from leading organizations worldwide, this is only the start of something bigger. Push the boundaries of medical technology while establishing the groundwork for a data-driven future that will result in massive medical advances: Consider implementing blockchain in the healthcare sector today!
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