In healthcare, interoperability is defined as the ability of different computer and technology systems to communicate and exchange data across a reliable network. But when it comes to scaling of such systems on big levels, the ‘reliability’ factor often gets compromised. Reason being, the failure of effectiveness and increased fraudulent activities in the overall data sharing system. But there’s no stopping to increasing data in the days to come anyway, so what’s the solution here? Probably, Blockchain in healthcare.
A revolutionary technology behind the working of the leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin is what we call blockchain today. To keep things simpler, let’s say that a blockchain is an immutable and distributed record of transactions based on a peer-to-peer network model.
What makes blockchain so unique is its quality of being immutable while keeping the data integrated. This allows us to build applications and systems called smart contracts based which contribute in making the overall functioning of the system smooth and easy.
Blockchain technology in Healthcare
Effortless sharing of data between healthcare providers results in higher chances of accurate diagnosis, fruitful treatments and cost-effective healthcare systems. Increasing patient data demands proper utilization in order to make the best effective use of the insights discovered from it.
Blockchain technology for healthcare can enable multiple participants of the healthcare system to share their data and keep a track of transactions without compromising its integrity and security. There are two types of blockchains that can be used in a system based on their permissions:
- Permissioned Blockchains- Permissioned blockchains allow the data inside them to be shared in real-time. Each transaction when time-stamped, becomes tamper proof and is stored as a permanent record.
- Permissionless Blockchains- Such blockchains enable every participant to view the records. As opposed to permissioned blockchains, identities of parties are not masked in this one.
Out of these two, permissioned or private blockchains can be effectively used in healthcare in order to make right decisions within the healthcare ecosystem. Blockchain in healthcare holds many possibilities and probabilities for the future as the field is constantly being explored. Here are seven things that you must know about Blockchain in healthcare:
- According to IBM, in a survey of 200 healthcare executives, 16% are expecting Blockchain rise in terms of adoption of a commercial blockchain solution probably this year.
- Using the application of Blockchain in healthcare, the donors in the network will be able to gain control of the data sharing process and get rewarded
- Members of the Blockchain in healthcare network can be benefited from being claimless and contribute as a shared economy for researches
- Using the technology of Blockchain in healthcare, work duplication and fraudulent activities can be minimized as the trust is based on consensus of the network parties
- With the aid of smart contracts, logic can be enforced on the top of the transaction occurring within the blockchain system. This allows the execution of rules to be based on how the transactions are carried out as per the contract.
- It is projected that 55 percent of healthcare applications will have adopted blockchain for commercial deployment by 2025 reports Statista.
- Potential healthcare application such as population health can be hugely benefited with Blockchain in healthcare. The need of health information exchanges as a middleman can be eliminated as blockchain for healthcare offers access to patient data as a decentralised and trustable system
Blockchain use-cases in Healthcare
To understand the scope of Blockchain in healthcare better, let’s consider few use cases here. According to studies, the drug counterfeiting market is worth $200 billion annually.
Drug counterfeiting & traceability
Drug counterfeiting refers to a system where authentic drugs are replaced with fake ones thus, increasing the profit margins for dealers while decreasing actual effect of drugs on patients. A drug company that uses a blockchain based product for selling the drugs can be assured when it comes to delivery of the right drugs to the right people. Here’s how-
–Firstly, a private blockchain can be used in the system to ensure trust.
–Secondly, the pharmaceutical companies can decide the miners in the system depending upon their position and role in the supply chain system.
–As per the blockchain process, the manufacturer can start the transaction with a unique hash which then is verified by the wholesaler, pharmacist and the patient as the transaction proceeds. This information is kept in a secure ledger which cannot be altered by anyone else.
–This way, unnecessary elements will be prohibited from accessing the system and changing things at any stage.
Patient Data Management
Another useful scenario of Blockchain in healthcare is the patient data management. There’s no argument to the fact that each person varies with the other one on the basis of certain factors. Whether it is a genetic disorder or a newly spreading disease, we cannot be sure of any one specific way in which it’ll affect people.
The possibilities are innumerable and this fact brings us to the need of storing patient data separately and securely. While there are methods of storing patient data, the centralized control over this data makes it vulnerable and exposed to unreliable sources.
Moreover, patients do not have access to their own medical records as there’s a chance that they can change them as per their choice. But thanks to the blockchain, these issues can be addressed in the following manner:
-Patient’s data can be collected and stored on databases. A hash is then generated from each data source to be redirected to the blockchain.
-Smart contracts can be used to enable access to patient’s data.
-The patient can decide to share his data with identifiable as well as non-identifiable resources. Upon access, the data can further be used by researchers or the medical community.
With all the new cases being explored and even newer ones getting discovered, we can be certain about one thing for sure: Healthcare has utilized the potential of blockchain technology in the past year and further plans to invest in it. New innovations and plans of blockchain in healthcare are expected to make some noise in the coming days.