Nowadays, the technology of blockchain is considered as a game-changer with the potential to have a huge impact on various industries. Bryan Smith, a chief scientist of PokitDok (a healthcare API platform) describes this technology as “a distributed database containing records whose contents, authenticity, and security are guaranteed. It drives efficiency, protects rights through immutable records, and establishes a system of accountability”. Some professionals even say that it can completely change the traditional landscape of how business is done. One of those industries ready for disruption is healthcare.
Sure enough: at the moment, the healthcare domain is just beginning to analyze the ways it may incorporate the blockchain to enhance services and operations. However, there's a growing interest from high-ranked executives which are slowly but gradually starting to invest in the blockchain technology because of its potential.
Below you will find a list of potential blockchain applications for healthcare domain.
- Drug Traceability
The blockchain helps to improve transactions between drug manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists and patients. Each of these transactions can be tracked to verify and secure drug product information important for tackling issues such as counterfeit drugs.
- Health Protocols
The technology takes care of improvement and authentication of health records and protocols on record sharing.
- Smart contracts
It really comes handy where there’s a need for certain rule-based methods which are created for patient data access. For instance, permissions can be granted to solely selected health institutions.
- Clinical trials
The principle blockchain makes altering or modifying data from clinical trials nearly impossible. This way, fraudulent acts can be eradicated.
- Precision medicine
Patients, researchers and providers can collaborate on the development of an individualized approach to healthcare.
- Electronic health records (EHRs)
Let’s observe more closely the application of blockchain technology to EHRs. As a matter of fact, it can help enhance three major features of EHR systems:
- Immutability. Each and every event on the blockchain has a unique hash corresponding to the contents of a record - this principle is called file integrity. This way, users can verify whether the contents of the record have been changed or not.
- Cybersecurity. Data access management makes sure that each hash contains a particular user permission for doctors, patients, nurses or any users with respective rights. Therefore, only authorized personnel may have an access to record information.
- Interoperability. Thanks to collaborative version control, each party involved has a record associated with the original record which is registered to the blockchain. Thus, everyone who has the appropriate role and responsibility can append information to the record avoiding issues such as inconsistent or duplicate records.
So what does it take to make it work as it described? Firstly, all the interested parties from the industry should engage in a dialog to discuss and adopt the variety of ways the blockchain technology could be implemented in every aspect of the industry, accompanied with some meaningful backing by governments. If properly applied, this technology may open up a new era in healthcare, an era of trustless collaboration and complete transparency, where every step of the process is faster, more efficient and cost-effective, with the ultimate result being better and longer lives of patients around the globe.