The concept of “Blockchain” has become actively discussed with the growing popularity of cryptocurrency. Blockchain is a p2p network invented by Satoshi Nakamoto which has gained dominance in the face of the internet-which was established or introduced in October 2008 as part of a phrase for bitcoin.
This unique currency system has a central authority for transferring ownership and confirming transactions. It is believed that Blockchain came as a result of bitcoin, but that’s not true. This technology has seen a real breakthrough in the field of finance and secure databases.
Blockchain has seen significant applications in our modern world, and one area we will discuss extensively in this article is healthcare. This article will examine five (5) benefits of Blockchain applications in healthcare.
These use cases will aid in understanding Blockchain’s influence on healthcare. Blockchain applications will be equipped with the latest technologies that can solve the problems faced by the healthcare industry.
The emphasis should be on enhancing care quality and ensuring that the attention is on the patient rather than on generating profits. There is no doubt that Blockchain will greatly influence healthcare in the future.
To get started, let’s briefly see what Blockchain means and how it works.
What is Blockchain
Blockchain is a distribution registry designed to record transactions, account for assets and build trust relationships between network participants. Unlike any other databases that store data in rational tables and different forms, it collects data into groupings called blocks.
In part, the name Blockchain explains the technology’s tasks and mechanics. It is formed from two words: “Block,” which is blocks and “chain,” which is a chain. And formally, the Blockchain is a chain of blocks sustained in a certain sequence.
And the blocks themselves are cryptographically encrypted information about financial transactions, contracts or transactions conducted within the system.
All blocks in the Blockchain registry are interconnected and contain a Hash (a digital fingerprint or unique identifier) timestamp according to the order in which it is added to the Blockchain.
Each subsequent block includes information on the previous ones. Thus, information is accumulated and forms a constantly updated database. The database is “limitless”, and countless amounts of information can be recorded in very different directions: from transactions with cryptocurrencies to the results of the voting in the presidential election.
The hashing gives each block a unique number that acts as its digital signature. This makes the Blockchain extremely secure.
How does Blockchain work
From what we have discussed about Blockchain, we gathered that Blockchain is a concept of storing data or information (transaction). The Blockchain network will verify the authenticity of the transaction.
Blockchain is a database that stores the history of all user transactions from its inception. Then several validated transactions will generate a block. The transaction is forwarded to a network (or storage node) of computers worldwide, and then the nodes will try to add this newly created block onto the main Blockchain.
When new information is added to the security system, a consensus procedure of all “nodes” is used. “Miners” decode and authenticate data. The transaction is then validated and then added to the database to form blocks of encrypted data (this is the “block” in the Blockchain).
The goal of Blockchain is to distribute information across all parties that have access to it through an application. Transaction tampering is avoided via decentralizing security management.
Why healthcare should implement Blockchain
The current healthcare system is outdated. It relies heavily on the interaction between the patient and the doctor and works on limited data. A limited aspect of health care leads to a mediocre healthcare system that still can’t take advantage of the data.
In addition, the current process of obtaining medical care is long and tedious. All this leads to ineffective treatment of the patient. Exchanging and preserving patient data in healthcare is key to Blockchain networking.
Blockchain applications can accurately pinpoint and identify mistakes and even detect dangerous ones. Blockchain is vital in controlling deceit in clinical trials for improved healthcare outcomes.
Another area where the existing healthcare system falls short is the preservation of health data. Clinical and patient data are dispersed throughout all systems and departments, making it hard to obtain the correct information at the appropriate moment.
This leads to issues and delays when the doctor tries to find out any information about the patient. Patients are not entirely in control since they get too many reports from many doctors that are tough to deal with all at once. Many healthcare systems cannot deliver vital therapy to patients due to a lack of access to clinical data.
Counterfeiting pharmaceuticals is another critical concern, leading to massive losses for the healthcare system. Current supply chain methods are ineffective in combating counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
The management system is also impacted since many participants are unorganized and lack the tools required for a seamless operation. With its wide variety of application usage and breadth, Blockchain may simplify the safe transfer of patient medical information, manage the drug supply chain, and assist healthcare researchers in unlocking genetic codes.
5 benefits of Blockchain for hospitals and clinics
Although the possibility of managing private records through digital means is the primary motivator of the interest of doctors and managers of hospitals and clinics, the contributions of Blockchain to the health sector do not stop there.
There are other applications of Blockchain to healthcare that we will be discussing in detail.
- Tracking of counterfeit products
The Blockchain serves as a security measure that helps check the productivity of drugs. The production of counterfeit products is one of the main problems in the health sector.Approximately 10 to 30% of all medicines are counterfeit medicines; this calls for medical institutions to correct them immediately. Not only are millions of dollars of revenue lost because of this, but it also affects patients. China and India are two countries that produce the most counterfeit drugs. Counterfeit medicines tend to be more harmful because they either do not contain the necessary ingredients or consist of different, sometimes even dangerous, ingredients and can be detrimental to the patients. With the help of Blockchains, these problems can be solved by ensuring the security and tracking of medicine. Blockchain works by adding transactions to a block. These transactions are immutable and also have timestamps for later verification. Thus, if the entire supply chain is transferred to the Blockchain, all problems can be eliminated. This is a great example of the use of Blockchain in pharmaceuticals. So hospitals that produce drugs can register their drugs and upload them on the Blockchains, which keep their data safe, communicate with other systems, and exchange public information. All drugs must be registered on the Blockchain before they begin to circulate. Thus, if the drug record is not found on the Blockchain, it can be easily considered fake and thrown out of the supply chain. This simple method can be used to verify the authenticity of medications. Blockchain will also provide a comprehensive solution in which platforms can work together. The systems will be able to track drugs and improve the entire process of delivering drugs to retailers and patients.
- Management and verification of medical credentials
Verifying medical experts’ credentials, which is necessary to investigate training, skills and medical licenses, is a very slow process in health companies. Some may take between four and six months to complete it. This delays the individual of promotion or other benefits. In this regard, Blockchain can speed the process by substituting the human hand by removing the need for lengthy email exchanges, phone conversations, and external database searches. It also allows healthcare firms to register and continue monitoring their team’s credentials. As the employment process improves, so does transparency and trust among subcontractors, hospitals, and patients. In addition, Blockchain records allow incremental changes when professionals need to increase certifications.
- Cost reduction
Fraudulent conduct abounds in health billing and lawsuits, with billing gaining primacy. Hospitals are at the forefront because they bill patients for treatments that have never been performed or are more expensive than industry standards. All these are done to increase profits at the expense of patients’ interests and issues. Not only that, hospitals and doctors are frequently discovered to have misconceptions regarding patients’ health state, which is far worse. The mediators in the systems created to verify claims are also hesitant to do their duties, delaying verification and opinion on these issues. It takes a long time to process claims, and it is required to visit the office at any time before it is evaluated and an acceptable judgment is made. This poses a big issue in the medical section. Blockchain may be utilized in invoicing process. If the billing process is Blockchain-based, the healthcare provider will have no way of charging the patient extra for services or introducing a service that the patient did not previously utilize. The administration of filing claims can also be enhanced. With the use of Blockchain, it can be reduced to a few minutes, not months. This is because mediators will be eliminated, and automation will be able to oversee the entire claims process.
- Patient data management
Data used in hospitals can be grouped into general medical data and patient medical data. Problems with our health come from numerous factors. Hospitals face the problem of recording past data on activities in the hospitals. This implies that each patient is different, making handling patient data challenging. Because each disease affects individual patients differently, it is also hard to develop a framework or utilize a standard treatment plan. A treatment has benefited one patient, but it doesn’t indicate it will assist everyone with the same illness. All of these complicated issues necessitate a comprehensive medical record for the patient. This will allow for tailored medical care with an emphasis on therapy centered on the individual patient. Another issue that most doctors confront is a lack of knowledge. This might lead the patient’s therapist to raise the expense of medical care. Using Blockchain is an excellent tool for managing patient data. This gives an organized method of storing data that experts may access. Patient data can be saved on the Blockchain and can only be viewed by the patient and the doctor engaged in this case by protecting the patient’s identity. Access can be denied at any moment, ensuring that the patient has complete access to his medical records. This does not imply that no data is available. Data that does not contain medical information about the patient and does not bear medical confidentiality is publicly available. As a result, it may be accessed through the API by health organizations or interested parties. This facilitates effective coordination across different systems. Doctors can also request data as needed.
- Facilitates testing/clinical trials
Clinical trials are a simple method of testing a new drug and its efficacy in a controlled environment. This can easily take several years. Not only that, pharmaceutical companies have to invest heavily in clinical trials. The pharmaceutical industry is estimated to invest about US$350 billion annually in developing new medicines. This generates a large amount of clinical trials that produce large amounts of data, involving thousands of people tested, as well as sponsors, doctors, researchers and manufacturers. In this context, errors can occur unnoticed, and as a result, the risk of spoofing and theft of information increases. Companies also don’t want to allow any fraud to happen. This means that there must be a transparent solution allowing anyone to view clinical reports and ensure trial results are not tampered with. Clinical trials/testing can be facilitated by using Blockchain as a medium. Since the Blockchain maintains data integrity, it can serve as proof of the necessity to verify the validity of papers. It also allows you to enter new data that necessitates using various nodes throughout the verification process. In general, distributed networks guarantee that data integrity is maintained and that no data may be updated without authorized access. The basic concept of data integrity can potentially transform the way clinical trials are done. It is a system that is free of flaws and has the potential to enhance our healthcare indefinitely.
Examples of healthcare companies incorporating Blockchain in their companies
SimplyVital Health, situated in Watertown, Massachusetts, already provides Blockchain-based data access technologies. Healthcare providers may access patient information and coordinate treatment more rapidly with an application that leverages Blockchain to establish an open-source database.
Some other example includes:
- Coral Health in Vancouver, Canada.
- Amgen is a biopharmaceutical company with headquarters in Canada.
- Pfizer is a pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation with headquarters in New-york.
- Novartis is a pharmaceutical corporation in Switzerland and the United States.
Healthcare still has the potential to see improvement in the use of Blockchain. The major drawback of most Blockchain networks is that large computing power and electricity reserves are needed to maintain their work and perform calculations.
But Like any innovation, innovative Blockchain technology stumbles upon many disputes, criticisms and questions in the global community.
However, many agree that the Blockchain is one of the best innovative developments of the last decade, capable of modernizing the health industry and other spheres of life.
See you soon,