May 18th 2023 | 05:41 | 3 min read
Blockchain has become synonymous with technological transformation and revolution. We all have heard about blockchain in relation to finance, metaverse, NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
But do you know that there are pivotal applications of blockchain in the healthcare domain too?
Yes! You heard it right. Blockchain in healthcare will be transformational in managing patient health records, streamlining insurance paperwork and even ensuring the security of patient health data.
That’s not all! Blockchain can do a lot more in making healthcare infrastructure more efficient and effective for both patients and healthcare providers.
According to market stats, 16% of the global healthcare sector will adopt blockchain by 2025.
Here is how and why blockchain can be used in healthcare and its potential benefits.
Medical Data Security
Whenever you go to hospitals, you provide your identification documents and personal details. Moreover, the hospital database also carry all your medical records including your test results, medical history, medicines you take and more.
Now if someone wishes to find out your personal details, they can easily do that by hacking into the hospital database. So, you might not have paid attention to this but the most intimate details of your life are very vulnerable with the current systems.
The healthcare sector needs very highly evolved and secure databases to store patient health and personal records.
Blockchain offers an immutable and tamper-proof ledger technology to store medical data. As blockchain is impossible to hack, patients’ personal details are safe.
Patient Health Record Management
Often hospital staff are burdened with massive paperwork. They have to manually enter the patient’s personal details, medical history, and ongoing treatment data. That’s not all! They even have to make discharge papers, hospital transfer papers and admission documents.
When you are manually entering every detail, it’s susceptible to error. Moreover, it consumes a lot of time.
A 2016 Johns Hopkins University research paper shows that the third leading cause of death in the US is medical paperwork errors.
Blockchain-based EHR solutions can reduce the burden on the hospital staff. It allows them to efficiently manage all the medical paperwork, eliminate errors and save time.
With blockchain EHR, healthcare providers get the accurate medical history of the patient which helps them in providing better treatment quickly.
For example, MedicalChain is a blockchain based EMR solution that is building a single source of truth in a patient’s medical records, creating a better experience for patients and healthcare providers.
MedicalChain allows patients to view their updated medical records. They can even choose to securely share their health records with hospitals or any third party like insurance companies. Further, patients can even set a time period for which their medical records will be accessible to the third party.
Healthcare Transaction Security
Hospitals process hundreds of transactions, overdue payment requests, claims and remittances at any given time. These are not done over secure servers which makes transaction details prone to cyber thefts.
Blockchain solutions in transactions can automate payments, release automated due bills and avoid payment delays. Moreover, it also reduces human error and saves time.
Drug and Vital Organs Supply Chain Management
One of the major issues in the healthcare sector is drug counterfeiting and vital organs trafficking (Red Markets).
Global Financial Integrity (GFI) estimates that 10 percent of all organ transplants, including lungs, hearts, and livers, are done via trafficked organs. Further, it is estimated that the illegal trade of human organs generates about 1.5 billion dollars each year from roughly 12,000 illegal transplants.
NFT solutions built on blockchain networks like NFTrace can help bring transparency and enable provenance tracking in futuristic transplants and transfusions.
National Crime Prevention Control reports indicate that 20% of drugs globally are counterfeit.
The issue of drug counterfeiting is so serious that in some countries 70% of the drugs in the supply chain are fake.
Now imagine sick people taking these harmful drugs only to get sicker.
Blockchain can make the drug supply chain more efficient, transparent and effective. Due to its immutability features, it can securely store all crucial data related to permissioned drugs. Moreover, it can also help in drug traceability by minutely tracking the journey of drug manufacturing, labeling, and distribution.
Clinical Trials & Research Management
Healthcare professionals and scientists conduct hundreds of tests and experiments to develop a medicine, vaccine or cure. Moreover, they continuously research and study medical reports from around the world for their work.
Therefore, they have to manage data from their own experiments and access reports of tests conducted in other universities.
Blockchain ledger technology will help to securely store and manage sensitive experiment data. It will also allow researchers to share their reports with others and access their statistics as well.
That’s not all! Blockchain can improve the research protocol by ensuring fair trial consent of the participants through smart contracts. A strict blockchain based research protocol will ensure that scientists follow the trial design and don’t change the parameters or employ any corrupt practice mid-trial.
Verifying Medical Credentials
Imagine trusting your doctor with a vital heart surgery without knowing his medical experience and credentials! Or imagine having the wrong medicines only to harm your body rather than cure the disease.
There have been cases of unqualified physicians prescribing medicines to patients.
But how can one verify the credential of the surgeon or doctor?
Blockchain based certifications can be applied right from the university stage where a digital copy of the students is stored over the blockchain.
This digital copy of the degree certificates and documents can be accessed by hospitals during the hiring process. As a result, it will simplify the hiring process and help hospitals in verifying the authenticity of the documents.
Moreover, hospitals can also maintain a blockchain ledger to store the certifications and experience documents of their doctors. This will help patients like you to digitally verify if the doctor is actually qualified to handle your case or not.
For example, ProCredEx, a company based in the United States, has created a medical credential verification system utilizing the R3 Corda blockchain protocol.
The blockchain system offers several key benefits, including faster credentialing for healthcare organizations during the hiring process, a chance for medical institutions, insurers, and healthcare providers to monetize their existing credentials data on past and present staff, and transparency and reassurance for partners, such as organizations sub-contracting Llocum Ttenens or involved in emerging virtual health delivery models, to inform patients about the experience of medical staff.
Simplify Insurance With Smart Contracts
The health insurance process is a tough nut to crack. Claiming your medical insurance is even more hectic than issuing it. You know the insurance struggle if you have health insurance.
Smart contracts can help automate the insurance process, simplify claim management and avoid insurance fraud.
Smart contracts are digital pre-coded contracts on the blockchain. These are self-executing contracts that execute themselves as soon as the terms are met.
So when the insurance deal is finalized with a smart contract, there is no scope for claim denial or fraud. The claims will be automatically processed as per the terms of the contract.
Moreover, smart contracts and blockchain can also help insurance companies analyze data to introduce personalized services for their customers.
Wearable Blockchain Based IoT Devices
The current remarkable feature of blockchain technology lies in its ability to integrate with wearable Internet of Things devices, which leads to improved monitoring of health records by patients and healthcare providers.
With the aid of blockchain, data from wearable devices such as fitness trackers, health monitors, and activity trackers can be securely and easily authenticated, enabling doctors and patients to access updated and secured data. This feature facilitates the tracking of changes and patients’ progress.
As wearable device usage continues to rise, the development of blockchain healthcare apps should be prioritized.
The potential applications of blockchain in healthcare are vast, and the benefits are numerous. From secure data sharing and interoperability to faster and more efficient transactions, blockchain has the potential to transform the way healthcare providers deliver care and manage patient data.
As the industry continues to evolve, we can expect to see an increasing number of blockchain-powered solutions emerge, from medical credential verification systems to patient-centred health data platforms.
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