Use Cases Of Blockchain in Healthcare
Blockchain technology has received a lot of traction since its inception, mainly because of its unique features like immutability and transparency. These features have made it an amazing solution to numerous problems of many industries like supply chains, finance, banking, insurance, social media, energy, and the healthcare industry is no exception.
With the advent of the technological revolution in the healthcare industry, every healthcare institute is looking to adopt technologies that can ease their procedures. However, as this sector also deals with very sensitive patient information, providers need to ensure that whatever technology they adopt does not compromise their patient data security. This is where blockchain technology steps in. Blockchain technology can be used to benefit the healthcare sector in numerous ways.
In this article, we will be focusing on the following use cases of blockchain in healthcare:
- Patient Data Management & Security
- Improve Patient-Provider Communication
- Pharmaceuticals Counterfeit Control
But before understanding the use cases, let’s discuss briefly about the meaning of blockchain in healthcare.
What is Blockchain in Healthcare?
Blockchain in healthcare implies the application of blockchain technology in the healthcare sector for numerous use cases. It is already being implemented due to increasing awareness of its benefits among more and more institutions.
Blockchain technology has been able to provide robust solutions for a majority of problems the healthcare sector was facing, such as data breaches and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
According to the 2020 Breach Barometer report, over 41 million patient records were breached in 2020. The WHO estimates that 30% of medicines in parts of Africa and Asia are counterfeit.
According to a report, the value of the blockchain market in the healthcare industry was US $2.12 Billion in 2019 and estimated to reach US $3.49 Billion by 2025.
Such high numbers call for desperate actions to help the industry overcome these problems and find solutions for these loopholes. This is where blockchain technology steps in. Let’s look at some blockchain in healthcare use cases and real-world examples to determine how blockchain can help the industry solve these problems.
What are the Use Cases of Blockchain in Healthcare?
There are numerous ways through which blockchain can help cover up the loopholes of the healthcare industry today. Here, we have listed and explained four use cases of blockchain in healthcare, along with their real-world examples.
1. Patient Data Management & Security
Security of data is a very significant issue in the healthcare industry. With the increasing numbers of data breaches every year, data security has become a massive concern for patients worldwide. Luckily, ensuring data security is a general application of blockchain healthcare today.
Blockchain technology is a decentralized, distributed, and immutable ledger of records. Whatever information is stored on the blockchain becomes nearly impossible to hack or change because of the technology’s high-security features. The transparency it offers ensures that any changes to the information are clearly visible, and there is no scope of tampering with the data. Hence, blockchain technology allows providers and patients to quickly and safely exchange sensitive healthcare information, by providing privacy and transparency through encryptions and complex protection codes.
Blockchain technology also eliminates risks linked to data centralization, hence makes it very useful to manage patient data efficiently and securely. Today, patient information is majorly stored in a centralized manner, making it prone to data hacks, breaches, and theft. To tackle this problem, blockchain technology is an excellent solution as it distributes the information among various nodes, making it impossible to hack or tamper. But how? Let’s see:
- The healthcare institutions or providers save the patient’s health records on the blockchain with the help of smart contracts. A public key or a unique ID is generated, which will be required to access the data.
- If a doctor wants to access the information, he must have the patient’s public key. The data is visible to the healthcare provider only once the key or unique ID matches.
- Without the public key, no blockchain healthcare solution can reveal the information saved on it. Hence, patients can share their public key with the healthcare organizations whenever required. This key will provide institutions access to data but will keep the patient’s identity private as the data will remain non-identifiable without the private key.
Let’s look at a few real-world examples of how blockchain technology is being used for patient data management and security.
Factom Inc. is a blockchain innovations company that creates multiple blockchain products. Factom has also created blockchain solutions to enable the healthcare industry to safely store digital healthcare records with its blockchain platform’s help.
Factom has also built a “portable medical wallet” to record patients’ medical information on blockchain for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Regardless of the changing healthcare environment or government regulations, the medical identities of patients are secure. The data remains safe and authentic as it is stored in a blockchain. Hence, they can be shared safely with multiple clinics without compromising the record’s integrity or the owner’s medical identity.
BurstIQ provides a blockchain based platform to healthcare providers, institutes, and organizations to enable them to manage a vast amount of patient data safely. The platform ensures strict HIPAA compliance while enabling:
- the safekeeping of information
- information sales
- sharing of information
- licensing information
The platform ensures that the information of patient’s healthcare activities being stored is:
Hence, it can also help to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs and opioids as all updated information is stored immutably on the blockchain. So, no one can tamper with the data to get additional doses of prescription drugs.
Guardtime is a company that is developing solutions to solve real healthcare challenges with blockchain technology. It is assisting healthcare providers, organizations, and institutions in implementing blockchain in their cybersecurity solutions. Guardtime has also helped the healthcare systems in Estonia to implement blockchain and enjoy its benefits.
Guardtime has successfully deployed several blockchain healthcare solutions based on its Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI) Blockchain.
You can also get a customized blockchain healthcare application developed by an experienced blockchain development company to efficiently and securely manage patient healthcare data.
Genomics is the study of complete sets of genes in organisms and incorporates elements of genetics as well. The genomics industry in healthcare has developed drastically, intending to improve human health’s future. It needs to safely store massive amounts of genetic data points, where blockchain can be of great assistance. To enhance the understanding of genomics and help scientists gather & store valuable information safely, blockchain application is a great solution.
Let’s look at a few real-world examples of how blockchain technology is being used for genomics.
EncrypGen has a blockchain based DNA data marketplace, known as Gene-Chain. The platform enables the searching, storing, sharing, and selling of genetic data. Members of the Gene-Chain platform use genetic information to research and advance healthcare by purchasing the information via secure and traceable DNA tokens. EncrypGen is also looking forward to integrating blockchain payments and auditing platform with Gene-Chain. With this step, they intend to form meaningful partnerships with analytics developers and healthcare software companies while making the procedures efficient and safe.
Nebula Genomics is a company that uses Distributed Ledger Technology to remove the irrelevant costs and intermediaries from the genetic study processes. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies spend massive amounts of money each year to acquire genetic information from such intermediaries, which Nebula Genomics aims to resolve by building a genetic database and incentivizing users to sell their encrypted genetic data securely.
You can also get a customized blockchain healthcare application developed by an experienced blockchain development company to store and share genomics data securely.
3. Improving Provider-Patient Communication
Miscommunication is a loophole that has a negative impact on every industry, irrespective of what it stands for. Especially in a sector as sensitive as healthcare, it is essential to ensure smooth and efficient communication as people’s lives are at stake. Miscommunication among healthcare providers or between patients and providers can cost a lot of money and even put patients’ well being at risk. Most of the miscommunication that occurs is related to incorrect medical records or delays in updates, as the process is very time-consuming.
Blockchain technology can be a beneficial solution to this problem. Blockchain solutions are decentralized. Hence, instead of the information being stored in a single database, it is stored on multiple nodes in a network. If a change or update is made to the information in one node, it is updated in all network nodes. It makes it very easy to share updated information with any doctor or healthcare provider quickly. The information stored on a blockchain is authentic, updated, and timestamped, making it very easy for the providers to go through it and act accordingly, especially in case of emergencies. It also assists providers in providing more personalized treatment plans and conducts faster diagnoses.
Let’s look at the following real-world example of how blockchain technology is being used for improving provider-patient communication.;
SimplyVital is a company that uses blockchain technology to create an open-source database so that healthcare providers can access patient data at any time and coordinate accordingly. It is making decentralized technology available to the industry through its Nexus Health Platform. It aims at providing quick and safe access to patient data so that healthcare providers can look at updated, time-stamped information and accordingly give care to their patients.
You can also get a customized blockchain healthcare application developed by an experienced blockchain development company to improve communication among patients and healthcare providers.
4. Pharmaceuticals Counterfeit Control
Pharmaceuticals counterfeiting is a very significant problem faced by the healthcare industry. Since pharmaceutical supply chains are not transparent, there tends to be a lot of tampering and counterfeiting.
Blockchain technology offers excellent solutions to tackle pharmaceuticals counterfeiting as it provides system transparency and immutability. It offers complete, end-to-end transparency to the supply chain. Blockchain in the pharmaceutical supply chain can help providers:
- manage inventory
- reduce counterfeiting issues
- reduce theft issues.
In the global health domain, it can also help organizations like Red Cross, USAID, or the Global Fund trace back the distribution of donated medications across different countries while ensuring the pharmaceuticals’ origination, authenticity, and integrity.
Let’s take a look at a few real-world examples using blockchain technology to tackle the pharmaceuticals counterfeiting issue.
TraceRX is a blockchain based pharmaceuticals supply chain solution for International Aid. LeewayHertz Technologies developed this distributed ledger platform to help UNO:
- trace distribution of free drugs
- identify inefficiency and losses
TraceRx tackles the problems of pharmaceuticals counterfeiting, theft, recalling, and shipment with the help of blockchain technology. It has unique features to help the stakeholders have complete information about the supply of pharmaceuticals and get notifications if:
- the quantity exceeds
- any changes are made to the supply stock
- if any unscheduled stops are made along the way
Blockpharma also offers drug traceability and counterfeiting solution. It scans the supply chain and verifies all shipment points, and the company’s application informs the patient if they are taking any falsified medicines.
This blockchain based application can help prevent patients from taking counterfeit medicines.
You can also get a customized blockchain pharmaceutical supply chain application developed by an experienced blockchain development company to control counterfeit pharmaceuticals’ production and supply.
What’s next for blockchain in healthcare?
Blockchain technology helps to solve some of the most significant challenges faced by the healthcare industry. Hence, its scope will only improve. With the rise in technical tools to ease the exchange of patient information and improve healthcare procedures, the industry is looking for secure and transparent ways to conduct operations to have complete authenticity in the systems and ensure their patients of the same.
With decentralized nature and capabilities to provide robust and secure solutions, the use of blockchain technology has already begun in the industry. As we move forward, the applications will rise. One may also expect it to be used along with other technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to receive enhanced medical care and healthcare blockchain solutions.
Blockchain technology has numerous use cases in the healthcare industry, and with growing popularity, we may even expect more upcoming use cases in the future. To solve the significant problems this industry faces, it is essential to bring about a change and improve the quality of healthcare services being given out. Blockchain technology appears to be a suitable solution for the same. With proper implementation and robust applications, blockchain technology can be the savior the healthcare industry is looking for.
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