Technology is something that is ever-evolving, and since the onset of the 21st century, we have witnessed some massive inventions and discoveries that changed our world forever. Among these inventions, one of the technology sensations is Blockchain, and it is considered as “The Next Big Thing” in the field of technology after the emergence of the internet itself.
The rise of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin has certainly helped Blockchain to get the spotlight it needed. Industry experts believe that Blockchain is not just a craze, and it is not all about cryptocurrencies; there is a lot more to it.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is basically a public digital ledger that is decentralized and distributed to record transactions across multiple computers. This ensures that the records cannot be altered retroactively without making similar alteration in all subsequent blocks. In simple words, you can imagine Blockchain as a huge google doc file with an exception, i.e. anyone can view it, and members can be added, but you cannot change the information present in it.
Significance of Blockchain
Blockchain resolves many digital challenges, hence, considered as a revolutionary invention. Digital challenges include transparency, inalterability, security, cost and innovation.
Integration of Blockchain technology into Healthcare
Currently, the health care information is completely scattered with a wide range of service providers, so blockchain technology can immensely help in integrating this information. Being a distributed network, blockchain technology-based systems can easily incorporate several intermediaries in the medical care system. It can be used in storing longitudinal patient histories which can then be used by consumers, companies and medical service providers.
The scope of blockchain technology in healthcare can be aptly depicted by the recently published reports which state that the value of blockchain technology in healthcare is approximately $ 34 million and will witness a further rise in 2024 with a revenue close to $ 1416 million. The growth of CAGR is expected to be around 70% between 2018-2024.
Although these statistics look quite promising, certain key factors make blockchain technology so important in healthcare. Those are:
As mentioned above, the blockchain decentralization system makes it hack proof and prevents any compromisation of data. The hardware commodities in the hospital can be easily run on these decentralized systems, which can eliminate human-made errors or even natural disasters. The resources saved through these systems can be used by the researchers to find treatments and drugs for various diseases and disorders.
Individual Data Source
As we are aware, in Blockchain, the transactions can be stored and added only if it gets confirmed by the majority of participants. This further ensures that the data once recorded can’t be changed, which proves it is 100% authentic and secured. This feature can help in longitudinal studies for developing precision medicine for effective treatment.
24*7 Monitoring and Accessibility
The healthcare sector can effectively utilise blockchain Technology for storing and updating useful patient data such as blood sugar level and blood pressure with the help of smart wearable gadgets and IoT. Also, this data can be used by doctors to monitor patients 24/7 who are prone to high risk, thereby sending alerts to the caretakers and relatives in case of emergency.
Blockchain technology eliminates all the third parties and mediators that are generally involved in collecting and transferring data. This, in turn, reduces the cost in the process and makes healthcare cost-effective.
Consistency in Rules and Smart certificate
Smart certificates or contracts are simple computer generated protocols that help in digital verification and facilitate negotiation. Coming to its integration in health care, it can help in developing consistent rule-based processes for different organisations in relation to accessing patient’s data.
Now that you are aware of the various scope of blockchain technology in the healthcare sector, you can better understand various applications of Blockchain in healthcare.
Effective Supply Chain Management
The present supply chain in the healthcare sector is too complicated and insecure. For instance, drugs are basically manufactured in manufacturing centres which are then transferred to the wholesale distributors, retailers and finally to the consumers. In this long process, there is a threat to the authenticity of the drugs, and possibly counterfeit drugs can enter the chain.
Preferably, blockchain technology can help the manufacturer to keep a proper track of the raw materials or ingredients that go in a particular drug and ensure whether it is of medical standards. The traceability feature of Blockchain can help out in detecting counterfeit drugs.
The authenticity of Medical Records
As nobody can change the data stored in Blockchain, it ensures the authenticity of medical records which can be used both for medical and legal purposes, if needed.
Study of Treatment Regimen
When used for medical research purposes, it can help them to collect data for a massive fraction of the population who are present patients or other recovered patients. This provides sufficient data to analyse various outcomes and treatment methodology.
Patient Complete Record
In situations like a pandemic, tracing patient details is so crucial. The blockchain technology can be of great help if utilised effectively as there is hardly any chances of duplication of patient records with their complete address in the system.
Settlement of Health Insurance Claims
We all are aware, how clumsy it is to get a medical claim settled. Through smart certificates or blockchain contracts, the terms and conditions are entirely transparent and can be processed in real-time.
Blockchain is a relatively new technology and yet to be explored thoroughly. From the success of bitcoin, it is quite evident that people have high expectations from it. It is undoubtedly going to bring a considerable change in the healthcare sector and will boost the development of healthcare apps through blockchain technology.
Let’s hope Blockchain will contribute to building a safer and better healthcare system for everyone.