Blockchain in Healthcare

The industry is one of the most proactive and excited about switching to a blockchain healthcare system, with over a quarter of stakeholders surveyed by the research company Deloitte disclosing an investment of over $5 million or more into the space. This statistic spells the obvious - the future of healthcare will be all about efficient data processing and sharing, bringing about a new era for one of the most promising blockchain use cases yet. Mainstream digitization of records in the previous decade has solved accessibility problems, heralded opportunity for analysing medical trends and assessing the quality of care. However, these processes are still flawed by mass isolation of locally centralized data which leaves the information prey to profit-seeking companies and stunts research. Transitioning to a blockchain healthcare system would cut costs and improve security, privacy and interoperability of health data, by introducing a new model of health information exchanges to generate clearer health insights and ensure better results for patients.

Easier interaction between blockchain medical records, the databases that hold them and individual patient information can improve treatment by providing more accurate diagnoses, treatment choice, as well as cost-effective care.

The blockchain healthcare use cases increase even more if we consider smart contracts - they could be employed on a healthcare-focused ledger in order to easily process surgery receipts between the hospital, patient and the insurance provider. In a similar way, a ledger can also be used for supervising drug intake and distribution, regulation compliance or managing healthcare supplies. For example, an individual patient could interact with a specific blockchain healthcare platform in order to easily view all of their claims, medical history, transactions, as well as overdue payments. Alternatively, they can also use the blockchain system in order to apply for transfers or schedule appointments with their immediate medical staff, which are activated by smart contracts as soon as payment is processed and doctor confirms availability.

This nascent technology could also be used to integrate and encrypt digital assets, such as blockchain medical records, or processing claims on a ledger. In cases where sensitive matters require patient confidentiality, a healthcare ledger could be the perfect solution in order to ensure relevant data is protected and encrypted in a very sophisticated manner. Similarly so, research conducted via HIPAA laws (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) i.e. in a confidential and secure manner, could be easily stored on a private blockchain which tends to this specific research data needs and can be accessed with extra authorization by concerned parties.

Blockchain healthcare applications

During the last decade, we have observed the rise of healthcare hardware and more recently, fitness wearables. Devices such as pacemakers and insulin-dispensers have long supported us through otherwise life-threatening ailments, while inventions such as activity trackers help us monitor our physical development and help keep our bodies in shape. Whether its a life support machine, or a fitness tracker, the fact of the matter is that these machines control and collect an increasing magnitude of, often very sensitive, usage data. As we progress into the future and rely on these external devices, new solutions will be required to streamline these new networks and secure the information that they produce and retain.

In a brand new blockchain healthcare infrastructure, applying the encrypted technical features of this technology to such gadgets will help ensure safety and interactiveness of data by storing it securely on a health- or fitness-centric, decentralized ledger.

We have discussed how the healthcare industry and our increasing reliance on everyday healthcare and fitness hardware can benefit blockchain use cases. But what about the progression of health sciences themselves? Just like other areas of science, progress within health treatment depends on breakthrough research developing new clinical studies, disease prevention, or technology to help treat patients. With financing opportunities centralized and often scarce, many promising studies fall by the wayside and go unexplored. It is reasonable to predict researchers being able to create their own tokens, or participate in a research-based blockchain healthcare ledger to fund their studies.

By interacting with said ledger, donors would be enticed by not only having one central place to pick and choose from their areas of interest, but also they could potentially be able to access real-time research data and benefit from a crowdfunding-esque micropayment donation system. On another hand, the trustless nature of the ledger would also minimize the chance of academic fraud and of duplication of work.