Blockchain promises privacy & Accuracy in the Healthcare Industry
Medical data related to healthcare is currently scattered across several different branches in the field. This negatively impacts clinical trials and rendering the right services to patients on time with accountability. Statistically, nearly half clinical trials are never reported and the cost of new drug research is constantly rising. Patient data in the healthcare industry is not consolidated and is spread across several branch specializations, institutions geographical convenience throughout the course of the patient’s lifetime. This makes recall, analysis, verification and further diagnosis or treatment delayed in times of need. Access of extremely personal medical data about patients currently lacks transparency and control from the patient’s perspective. Research, insurance and palliative care is also delayed in this data’s communication. Data stored digitally or physically is also prone to manipulation, loss, destruction all while raising costs of recalling when needed. Blockchain presents a futuristic approach to these problems by working as a trusted decentralized database.
Blockchain is advantageous over traditional medical data storage as records maintained in blockchain cannot be edited or deleted and are completely trackable. This can be particularly useful in preventing medical fraud, counterfeiting, and saving money via establishing a proper chain of custody in the supply chain.
Forms of utilization of blockchain
The most popular way to sue blockchain in the healthcare industry is in maintaining electronic health records. When a patient enters a hospital, it is vital for doctors to know the patient’s previous medical history, include medicines and lifestyle choices. Patients can often hide information, and hospitals can lose or falsify the same for insurance or ulterior motives. Thus, secure and traceable data transfer across all hospitals can be stored in a blockchain, preserving their privacy from access by organizations seeking medical metadata. If the patient allows, blockchain-based solutions can provide efficient ways to share clinical and trial data competitively. Similar processing can be sued for delivering prescription medication, ensuring no replication and perhaps slowing down the opioid crisis.
Advantages of blockchain
Blockchain offers a never before experienced opportunities to form permanent records that cannot be altered. Because blockchain works on verifying each transection in a systematic flow, change is impossible and offers a steady accountability of all transactions. This is particularly useful in establishing trust in the system. For a field as sensitive as healthcare, blockchain also adds authenticity while preventing multiple orders thus preventing financial loss and avoiding abuse of prescriptions and subsidiaries.
Challenges in the medical industry
Any futuristic technology will have to go through the test of time before it is accepted by the masses as the default normalized option. Legal challenges arise for blockchain records are not yet accepted as a binding verifiable digital transection. Several countries confuse Blockchain as a technology with its one potential use via Bitcoin and have arbitrarily banned the same. It would require the government’s support and corporation to include Blockchain before it is utilized in the medical industry. There are also technical challenges, as healthcare industry would have to integrate into the legacy systems currently in use. Those in use would have to be trained to understand blockchain better and explain patients on how this newer technology will preserve their records better. Regulation and standardization of the same would also take time as currently most blockchain technology models for data storage and retrieval are just proof of concepts on paper. There is also a major factor of trust, since medical data is highly sensitive and patients trust to be in control to determine who receives the same would take time.
Conclusively, blockchain offers several potential benefits at little risk in the medical industry. Those adopting it gain a competitive advantage, however if the entire ecosystem is to be changed there needs to be a wider stance of acceptance on the same. The medical field has a huge scope for permanent record keeping without tampering as it directly affects the lives and resources of millions. Blockchain can help in data management of patients, drug research, management and traceability of medical goods and equipment, prescription control, insurance related bills management and analytics among other futuristic uses.