With early uncertainties pertaining to blockchain lain to rest, the market has moved ahead from the cloud of doubts and into the phase of mainstream application. For the last couple of years, the internet has been breaking with news of blockchain disrupting one industry or the other. In fact, if there is one word that is ubiquitous within the concept of blockchain, it is disruption. From supply chain management to sports, the applications of blockchain are undeniably vast and unmatchable. It is so vast, that it makes it almost unfathomable for us to foresee which industry will be disrupted next.
With that said, let us shed some light on the applications of blockchain for the healthcare industry which shows a lot of potential and has significantly gained momentum over the last 2 – 3 years. However, one thing that needs to be remembered is that healthcare isn’t like any other sector, and the data needs to be handled very vigilantly as the smallest error can have dire repercussions.
Some of the most evident benefits of blockchain for healthcare are stated below:
A common problematic occurrence prevalent in the healthcare industry is that the personal information of patients can be misused. Since data has started being digitized, the internet contains more information about people than we could ever imagine and if it goes in the wrong hands people can suffer in quite a lot of ways. Research has shown that health records are more valuable than your credit card information, which is why, it is crucial to safeguard this information. Digitization and encryption of health records is one approach to ensure their safety – a feature blockchain is renowned for.
In a blockchain network, no new transaction can be made unless the majority of the members approve it. From health records to receipts, each data is validated against a decentralized ledger of previous clients. These multiple security checkpoints are a great way of ensuring that the data related to a patient remains secure and isn’t subjected to any fraud or embezzlement.
This, in turn can also revolutionize the way patients choose others to interact with their information. The right of whether customers want to enable privacy on their personal information or disable it should be granted to them, allocating patients a greater control over the settings of their data. Although it is quite similar to how conventional health care information exchanges happen, there exists a huge difference in terms of data validation.
Barriers to EHR usability
A couple of years ago, engineers operating in the health care department were restricted by a handful of varied standards. According to those standards electronic health records must be capable of performing actions such as: encoding information communicated through email, safeguard private health details and validate the identity of the patients.
However, its medical practitioners or doctors who have the suffer the repercussions of this EHR policy. The reason behind this is that standardized EHR software isn’t based on these requirements. Many clinicians, to avoid the stress of working with these EHR standards either opt for medical billing outsourcing to shed off some burden or go so far to take a premature retirement.
With a decentralized spreadsheet, not only will the medical data remain secure, but it will also aid in verifying the documents of doctors, limit security to customer’s records, safeguard the medical supply chain and validate medical reports.
Blockchain in the field of clinical photography
People that have first hand experience of utilizing blockchain in the field of clinical photography claim that this revolutionary technology has brought significant improvements in the clinical photography apps to the forefront. These two improvements are better known as smart contracts and interface apps.
In this day and age, where technology is revolutionizing every facet of people’s lives, contracts aren’t left far behind. Traditionally there has been a lot of risk associated with conventional contracts, which is why now people are leaning towards smart contracts to avoid getting fraudulently doctored.
Smart contracts are basically information sharing pacts between clinicians and customers that are generally applied. The role that blockchain plays here is that it makes sure the health care data ecosystem of a patient revolves around him, giving him full control over it. A patient can restrict parties from viewing it or he can give them full access, depending upon his preferences.
Earlier this decade, SMART platform was claimed to be an “open, standards-based technology platform” by the data scientists at Harvard, for smooth operation of patients around the health care system. Although, we have witnessed a lot of development in the past year in this sector, engineers can already foresee that blockchain will in fact, turn this futuristic fantasy into a reality.
Blockchain has the potential of revolutionizing the EHR sector by delivering safe, adaptable and executable business-related contracts. Practitioners can scan documents with their smartphones through secure apps such as ShareSmart or ProDerm and then by utilizing a smart contract, upload those images to a blockchain enabled EHR.
While we believe the above two examples are somewhat niche, blockchain provides integrated solutions. An example of this is the Synx system which basically detects if patients have diabetic retinopathy or not by scanning their retinas. Ophthalmologists especially advantage from this technology in Mexico where there is a deficiency of staff for clinicians.
In the US around $200 are wasted on a yearly basis due to faulty circulation of drugs. Not only this improper distribution of drugs poses serious threats to the practice but it can also have grievous effects on a patient’s health.
To tackle this problem, blockchain can be used. The pharmaceutical companies can form an alliance and monitor the supply chain of drugs from production to distribution. Since the information on blockchain isn’t subject to any alteration without the inclusion of each member on the panel, the risk of data breach gets significantly minimized. In addition to that, the transparency feature of this distributed ledger enables pharmacists to track the channel circulating drugs illegally.
Incorporating new technologies is vital to the growth and survival of medical practices, which is why clinicians should be on the lookout for new practices and software. Blockchain is disrupting markets one at a time and it is only a matter of time when the health care industry will use blockchain completely to run its operations.
Over the last decade, we have seen medical practitioners resorting to new techniques to boost their operations. Many clinicians earlier this year got onboard with medical billing process outsourcing companies to streamline their business operations so it is only a matter of time when they incorporate blockchain in their business too for smooth procedures. Thus, to get a head-start, it is recommended that you look into blockchain and how it can benefit your practice.