Blockchain is the leading technology that powers the existence of Bitcoin and numerous other cryptocurrencies. Even though many don’t understand cryptocurrency, don’t want to understand it, or simply find it too risky, taking a closer look at blockchain technology can be incredibly beneficial, especially in the healthcare sector.
The technology can offer many benefits, and it all depends on the willingness to adopt it and use it properly. In this article, I wanted to take a closer look at how applicable it is now and in the future in the healthcare sector. Mostly because I believe this sector is slow to adopt new technologies and methods, even though its entirety can massively benefit from such endeavours.
Before we begin, you first need to understand what blockchain is if you’re going to advocate for its adoption.
In essence, a blockchain is effectively a distributed public ledger primarily used to track assets and record transactions. The main benefit here is that all data is entirely secure and guaranteed by a peer-to-peer network comprised of computers, each automatically doing its part to store data and verify it.
It’s entirely opposite to a centralized system, which is precisely where the benefit lies. Thus, people can use blockchain to deal with a lot of data safely. This is possible as all records on the blockchain are arranged in a block structure, where every block verifies another next to it, ultimately building a chain.
Thanks to this chain-like structure, it’s virtually impossible to modify a block without acceptance from other blocks. In other words, computers and their users on the blockchain verify other computers and their users, and vice versa, creating an incredibly secure network and technology that’s already being applied in numerous sectors.
However, we don’t need to go to these other industries to see how useful the technology is, as it’s already being applied in healthcare for various reasons. Pioneers in its application in the sector are coming out left and right, and it’s worth taking a good look at what they are doing as these examples can show why you need to consider blockchain’s application.
One of the main ways blockchain technology can be used in healthcare is securing patient data. This is crucial because reports tell us that more than 176 million records were exposed in data breaches from 2009 to 2017, with more following in the years after. These breaches have shown how the sector is insecure in this modern age and why new technologies are crucial.
As I already mentioned, blockchain can eliminate these instances. Companies like Burstiq from Colorado are already offering the technology to secure medical data and use it more efficiently. Medicalchain from the UK has a blockchain-based platform that can safely maintain records on patient identity.
Blockchain technology can also be used in medical records to streamline the entire process of care and eliminate mistakes that cost money and sometimes the patient’s health. The decentralized nature of the network creates a safe and streamlined ecosystem of medical data that can be accessed efficiently in no time by any doctor with access to it.
Companies like Simplyvital Health, Robomed, Coral Health Research & Discovery, and many others are already offering solutions that work like this.
Besides that, blockchain can also improve supply chain management and offer better drug traceability and safety.
These are some of the main ways pioneering companies use blockchain technology to improve the healthcare sector. But thanks to the nature of the technology, blockchains can be used in a lot of other interesting and potentially incredibly beneficial ways as well. You can effectively store any data on a blockchain-run network, precisely why the healthcare sector’s possibilities are huge.
Naturally, the benefits depend on how this technology is adopted. These benefits are not inherent in the technology itself but in how it’s appropriated and used. Experts need to work on what to use it for and how to use it.
The future is bright as long as people are willing to adopt blockchains. Some agree that this technology can help address a big problem in the industry — how medical data is shared with stakeholders, how its integrity is preserved, and how patient’s privacy is ensured.
This sharing is important because the blockchain can enable healthcare institutions to easily share medical records with the patients themselves, which is already possible today but not very practical. It usually doesn’t occur even though every patient should easily access their own medical records and findings. If that were to happen, treatments would become a lot more streamlined and possibly even more successful.
What I’ve failed to mention by now, and a thing that is very important in healthcare is organization. With blockchains, the institutions themselves will have the ability to organize themselves better internally. This is quite necessary as most institutions today are having enormous problems with data management.
In the end, I also believe this technology can be useful in filling the online recruitment gap in research trials. Finding people and onboarding them is already quite difficult and costly, but I believe we can streamline this by using blockchain. With effective implementation, we can also reduce costs.
As you can see, blockchain is one of the leading new technologies hitting the healthcare sector that can and will prove to be incredibly beneficial for it. The possibilities are practically endless, not only from the efforts already undertaken but from the visions for the near future as well.
With enough will, effort, and expertise, blockchains can fix many of the sector’s problems, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future will bring.