Blockchain and The Healthcare Industry

01 May 2023

Electronic health records have proved to be a great means of digitizing patient medical records over the years. It’s removed the need for paperwork and the traditional way of recording patient data.

The question is, how successful has the EHR system been in protecting patient data?

If you take a deep dive into the surpassing number of ransomware that these digital records pose, it’s no longer becoming a safe option to hold sensitive information.

Well, it’s not just that! There are several inherent problems posed by the current methods of storing patient data and operating with it. It’s time that medical science calls for the advent of blockchain in its space.

With the arrival of blockchain technology, digital records can be stored in a ledger and never be manipulated. There are possibly 101 ways decentralized solutions will change the way the healthcare industry operates.

In this article, we’ll look at how blockchain is transforming the healthcare industry and the benefits of its adoption.

Why Is Blockchain Necessary in the Healthcare Space?

As of 2023, if you were to count the total number of health record data breaches, the score would rank in millions. One of the major data breaches goes back to 2011 when backup tapes containing sensitive information of 5 million patients such as personal health data, clinical notes, etc were stolen from Tricare, a health program servicing active duty troops.

There have been many other incidents related to data breaches in the healthcare space over the years as witnessed by the Banner Healthcare Group where electronic records of 3.62 million patients were stolen by cybercriminals.

Last year too there were several data breaches associated with the healthcare industry. One TouchPoint, a third-party mailing & printing vendor that offered its services to healthcare organizations was hacked in July 2022 and sensitive health info of about 2.6 million patients was stolen.

Now, this is just one typical case of fraudulence in the medical space. Insurance providers, drug and pharma companies, and many other verticals in the healthcare space are facing several issues with respect to transparency, authenticity, and traceability.

Blockchain necessarily eradicates all the typical problems that can emerge in healthcare, thanks to its inherent nature of locking down sensitive user data and storing it in public/private distributed ledger systems.

Decentralized blockchain applications help to streamline regular medical processes, automate redundant ones, and enhance interoperability in the healthcare space.

5 Use Cases of Blockchain in The Healthcare Space!

With the blockchain market for the healthcare industry estimated to bring a turnover of USD 14.25 billion by 2032, there’s no doubt that it’s going to make a massive change in the industry. Let’s take a look at the top 5 use cases of blockchain in the healthcare space.

1. Secure Patient Data

Tampering with patient health records is the most dealt with problem in the medical industry and if there’s anything that blockchain would solve first, it’s securing patient data. With the digital ledger technology of blockchain that stores data that is transparent and immutable, no third party will ever be able to access it for fraudulent use.

2. Efficient Supply Chain Control

As most of the medicines and drugs are imported from far away places, there’s always a reason to worry if they are of good quality. There’s a huge chance that the medicines can be swapped with dangerous alternatives at any stage of the SLM process. With the blockchain system in place, pharma stores can track down the authenticity of the medicine/drugs to its roots.

Time stamps of each vendor & warehouse transfer are maintained properly in the digital ledger with smart contracts approving only the genuine ones. So there’s complete transparency in the entire supply chain process and doctors, and pharma companies can be confident of the medicines they give to patients.

3. Streamlining Health Insurance Processes

Healthcare insurance providers have to do several verification tests to approve the insurance for patients who are seeking it. On the other hand, there are several people who cheat insurance dealers with false claims to get their hands loaded with money. To solve the current issues in the health insurance sector, various companies are deploying blockchain applications enforced with smart contracts.

Smart contracts verify the authenticity of a given insurance claim and pass the order to approve it automatically without any human intervention. With pre-programmed conditions, a smart contract checks if the given insurance claim satisfies them and approves it instantly if it does. Insurance companies can streamline their heavy load of authenticating claims easily with a blockchain system in place.

4. Crypto Currency Payments

Patients can pay their bills in cryptocurrency which is safer and easy to transact via blockchain applications. This also establishes decentralized finance wherein there’s no central authority associated with the payment transfer. Medical companies can have a proper record of financial transactions and be assured that there’s no tampering done with it.

5. Optimizes Patient Health Record Management

When it comes to recording patient data, there will be several types of information to record. Medical history, current medical status, medicines & drugs procured in a given time duration, all such information needs to be branched and stored for easier access. With blockchain’s digital ledger, all information regarding a patient can be stored with each connecting the other as blocks of data.

It will be easy for doctors and medical staff to access all information regarding a patient at any given instant and share medicine bills and prescriptions with them in a streamlined manner.

The Future of HealthCare!

The healthcare industry will see great innovations in the coming future as various advanced technologies such as AI, ML, AR/VR, metaverse, and others will progress in manifolds. The one technology that will be imminent in redefining the healthcare experience is going to be blockchain.

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