Blockchain In Healthcare
When executives outside of the financial industry hear about blockchain, their instant reaction is to feel confused — and either start asking questions or ignore that it has even been mentioned at all.
This is because, for a long time, blockchain has been viewed as a very niche piece of cryptocurrency software, not something that can be used in the mainstream world.
Over the years, attitudes have been slowly changing towards the blockchain technology, and various companies are starting to embrace it more.
Even in the healthcare community, which is known for being late to the game when it comes to digital innovations, it’s beginning to come around to the idea of using Blockchain to replace older software.
Before we go into detail about how Blockchain is already being used in the healthcare industry, however, we need to answer the question that you’re probably wondering: what actually is Blockchain?
As explained it before, blockchain is an incorruptible digital leader of economic transactions that can be programmed in such a way that it records any valuable data.
To break this down further, blockchain allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied, making fraudulent data breaches virtually impossible, which is something the healthcare industry desperately needs.
Now that that’s out of the way and you have something of a basic understanding of blockchain, let’s talk about some of the awesome ways blockchain is already being used in healthcare today!
Blockchain Gives Patients Ownership Over Their Data
As blockchain is a secure network that allows digital information to be distributed without the fear of being breached, patients are able to securely and reliably access their complete medical history from anywhere in the world.
This allows healthcare facilities and specialized companies to promote themselves as more patient-centered, as they are putting the patient in control of their own medical data.
Instead of having to go through rigorous processes, and booking unnecessary appointments with their physician or specialist to find answers about their medical history, patients can do so with through secure, blockchain-based channels, saving the facility time and money in the long run.
Patients Can Sell Their Data To Big Pharma via blockchain technologies
In addition to using blockchain to give patients the option of viewing their own data, blockchain technology in the healthcare industry also cuts out the middleman when it comes to sharing patients’ data anonymously with researchers and other healthcare organizations, including big pharma companies.
This is great news for people looking to make a little bit of extra cash from their medical records, as they will retain 100 percent of any money provided in exchange for their anonymous medical records.
This has led to the stellar rise in popularity for medical startups like Embleema. Embleema is a two-sided marketplace where patients can sell their medical data to researchers in the life sciences field. The company claims some of its users can make up to 10,000 per drug trial when matched with the right clinical trial. And the platform is fully built on top of blockchain technology.
There’s no risk of blockchain technology lowering the market price of this type of data-sharing exchange, either, as accurate medical data matching is more valuable for these companies than the price tag they pay for it.
Among other things, companies like Embleema provide healthcare organizations, including big pharma companies, with increased efficiency when it comes to data-driven processes, in areas like drug discoveries. Perhaps even better than this is the fact that patients are in complete control of the information they provide and how it is used.
As Anca Spanu writing for HealthcareWeekly points out, blockchain technology also allows patients to use digitized smart contracts that ensure care that providers only have access to information that the patient has previously agreed to share.
Blockchain Checks Supply Chain Integrity
When a number of healthcare providers are dealing with large amounts of pharmaceutical drugs from different supply chains on a daily basis, managing them properly can be difficult.
Even when healthcare organizations do their best, they are relying on their employees and basic technology (camera footage) to provide them with the information they need to make sure their supply chain is following quality standards.
With blockchain technology, however, these organizations can record important information about products without having to digest the other, unnecessary information.
This may include information about the side-effects of a certain drug, or whether a product has gone through a round of regulation, or even the path a drug takes from a manufacturing plant all the way to a patient, via pharmacies. Once this information has been discovered, the organization can use blockchain to reliably store it.
Having access to this information allows blockchain-enabled drug manufacturers to flag lower quality products so that their organization can phase them out in favor of other drugs, or demand that the supply chain team drastically improves their products.
Blockchain & Fraud Prevention
Health insurance companies continuously raise their prices, partly to cover the costs of successful fraudulent claims that are made against them every year.
The good news is that blockchain technology is immutable, meaning it cannot be changed over time, helping these companies to identify falsified claims without penalizing those who have genuine claims by increasing their insurance bills every year.
Health insurance companies can also use this method to verify information about a patient’s drug prescriptions, medical institution visits, or contracts, which is another way to make sure that expenses claimed are for things that the claimant has actually received help for.
In the future, this could lead to a reduced charge from many insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid who have to coordinate payments and services between a number of different agencies.
As we can see, blockchain technology is already beginning to revolutionize the way the American healthcare system works.
It helps prevent people from making claims that penalize the masses, increases the odds of medical innovation breakthroughs with increased freedom to view and share confidential medical records in a way that benefits both patients and healthcare providers.
As we delve further into the healthcare digital revolution and more people start to understand this secure, accessible technology, however, the uses for blockchain in the healthcare industry are only going to grow!
In the next decade, we are going to see a dramatic shift in the technologies healthcare organizations use to control their digital data, and we believe blockchain technology is just one of the things that will become a mainstream component of any organization.
Mark my words; these awesome uses of blockchain in the healthcare industry are just the beginning for the future of blockchain technology!
Author Bio: This post comes from Codrin Arsene, CEO @ Digital Authority Partners, a digital agency in Chicago, Il.
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