Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the financial industry, but it may have many more applications. The healthcare industry has been relatively resistant to new technology in the past. But new advances in tech are rapidly changing how we care for patients.
This new technology could revolutionize some of the issues that have plagued the industry from its inception. While blockchain technology is in its nascent stages of development, already some healthcare companies are exploring opportunities. Here are just a few of the ways it could revolutionize how we approach healthcare in the next few decades.
Part of the appeal of blockchain technology is that its data is not stored in one location but across multiple nodes on a network. That means a catastrophic event like a clinic fire won’t completely wipe out decades of patient information. It also means someone can move across the country, and their new psychologist in San Jose gets instant access to their health records. The decentralized nature of storage also means patients get better access to their medical records. Health information exchange is supposed to provide this with ease, but in reality, HIE doesn’t always work. It relies on a human element that could be sabotaged.
Data stored on the blockchain is immutable — that means once it is committed, it cannot be changed or altered. Records falsification is one a huge challenge the healthcare industry faces. Instant record retrieval could also make a difference in life or death situations. Imagine a hospital in Germany being able to pull up the medical records of a traveler from Australia during an emergency situation.
Revolutionizing the way we store health information means patients and caregivers have immutable and secure health records available at any time. Blockchain records can be encrypted so that only authorized entities have the keys necessary to view the data stored. Think of it like a bank vault that requires individual keys for each lockbox in the vault. This digital encryption is one of the founding tenets of what makes blockchain tech so useful across so many different industries.
Smart contracts in healthcare could remove a lot of the middle-men that sap insurance dollars. These contracts keep information between pharma, doctors, patients, and insurance companies on the same page. They keep a sequential record of all transactions and all interdependencies involved in those transactions.
The idea behind deploying smart contracts is to reduce inefficiency in the healthcare system significantly. Cutting out the middle-men for setting prices between healthcare entities could result in lower rates, too. The transparency involved means smart contracts inherently solve the mistrust between healthcare entities.
Track Prescription Drugs
The pharmaceutical industry has been dealing with counterfeit medications for years. Counterfeit drugs are contributing to the nationwide opioid epidemic. Blockchain technology could help prevent counterfeits by following authentic pills from source to end-user. The technology has already revolutionized some parts of the supply-chain management industry, especially in retail. If the pharmaceutical industry embraces the technology for tracking its products, it could help reduce obscene prescription drug dissemination.