Blockchain technology, originally associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has evolved to have significant potential in various industries, including healthcare. This article explores the transformative possibilities of blockchain in addressing some of the healthcare sector’s most pressing challenges.
Table of Contents
- Blockchain Basics
- Applications in Healthcare
- Barriers to Adoption
The healthcare industry has witnessed an alarming increase in cybersecurity breaches, with the number of individuals affected by healthcare cyberattacks reaching 45 million in 2021, up from 34 million in 2020. The urgency to address these security needs has brought blockchain technology to the forefront as a potential solution.
Blockchain is a secure, decentralized technology that tracks transactions through a digital ledger. It encrypts information or “blocks” of data, which are chained together to create a single source of truth. The decentralized and immutable nature of blockchain reduces security risks and has the potential to revolutionize industries such as finance and healthcare.
Applications in Healthcare
Hospital cybersecurity breaches have hit an all-time high, and blockchain technology emerges as a revolutionary tool to address these security needs. The decentralized and widely distributed nature of blockchain makes it more difficult to corrupt, providing a stronger line of defense to protect patient information and claims transactions.
“The decentralized and widely distributed nature of blockchain makes it more difficult to corrupt, providing a stronger line of defense to protect patient information and claims transactions.”
Patient privacy is a paramount consideration in implementing blockchain in healthcare. Strategies are needed to address concerns related to the collection, use, access, disclosure, storage, and disposal of patient PHI (Protected Health Information).
Regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) set standards for patient privacy and data availability. Some project are already working on solutions like: Medicalchain or Guardtime helping healthcare companies and governments implement blockchain in their cybersecurity and privacy data.
Supply Chain Management:
Blockchain technology is poised to revolutionize the supply chain (SCM) in healthcare, addressing many important challenges. Provides a solution to the widespread issue of counterfeit medicines by maintaining a clear and consistent trade manual, ensuring the authenticity of medicines throughout the supply chain Enhanced traceability enabled by blockchain allows real-time tracking of medical products from manufacturers to end-users Verifies that they are stored and transmitted
In addition to protecting against counterfeit medicines and ensuring the authenticity of products, blockchain quickly identifies affected products and locations and facilitates the successful return of recalled products, reducing risks if available to patients, reduces financial impact and data integrity through decentralized technology and cryptographic characteristics It also provides security, builds trust among stakeholders and ensures compliance with regulatory standards.
Quality of Experience (QoE)
The benefits provided by blockchain technology in healthcare impact positively the quality of experience (QoE) of most stakeholders and end users, including patients, caregivers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies.
Efficiency and Traceability
Blockchain offers faster processes by cutting out archaic and paper-based systems, providing the same speed of transactions available in other industries in a secure and traceable fashion. It ensures traceable and reliable communication and eliminates barriers to transactions, reflecting changes in real-time.
An example of a crypto project working on this is Cardano. Where Cardano is making significant strides in enhancing traceability in healthcare through innovative solutions and strategic partnerships. The blockchain platform has collaborated with Scantrust to optimize supply chain traceability, ensuring the authenticity and safety of medical products by combating counterfeiting and increasing transparency. Additionally, Cardano’s Atala PRISM, an ID & credentials solution, offers a secure ecosystem for verifying medical certifications and credentials, contributing to the secure management of medical records.
There are many other projects then Cardano also working in this field, exploring the vast potential of blockchain in healthcare traceability.
Barriers to Adoption but big opportunities
Despite its potential, there are barriers to adopting blockchain technology in healthcare. The healthcare industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technology, and the implementation of blockchain would require significant changes in operating processes and infrastructure. Additionally, blockchain is a new technology that requires an infrastructure to be built from the ground up.
Area of Impact
Positive Changes with Blockchain
– Enhanced protection of patient data through encryption and decentralization. – Reduction in data breaches and unauthorized access.
– Empowerment of patients with control over their health data. – Compliance with privacy regulations like HIPAA and GDPR.
– Real-time tracking of medical products and drugs. – Quick and accurate identification and recall of defective or harmful products.
Supply Chain Management
– Combatting counterfeit drugs and ensuring product authenticity. – Streamlining processes and reducing costs through smart contracts. – Improved cross-border transactions.
– Facilitation of data exchange and communication among different healthcare systems. – Improved collaboration among healthcare stakeholders.
– Optimization of business processes leading to reduced administrative costs. – Automation of transactions and claims processing.
Quality of Experience
– Improved patient experience through secure and efficient services. – Enhanced trust and satisfaction among healthcare stakeholders.
New Business Opportunities
– Creation of new business models and services in healthcare. – Encouragement of innovation and development in the healthcare sector.
The blockchain technology in healthcare is a testament to the industry’s demand for innovation and security. Technologies based on securing digital transactions have shown promising applications for protecting patient data, increasing transaction traceability, and improving overall healthcare efficiency but navigation requires adoption everywhere is fraught with challenges, especially due to the industry’s cautious approach to technology adoption