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Blockchain, the revolutionary technology which had a major impact on the financial industry, due to its data exchange and management properties is coming to healthcare. According to a survey done by IBM, 16% of the healthcare executives have plans in place for the implementation of commercial blockchains. Also, by 2020, 56% of the healthcare executives are expected to follow through with blockchains.
Blockchains has the potential to cause a significant impact in the healthcare industry because it holds the answers to a large number of problems. In other words, it is the disruptive technology that the healthcare industry has been looking for, which can change everything.
But before we dwell on the aspects of how blockchain will have an impact in the healthcare industry, let us take the time to understand its meaning.
Blockchain, what is it?
Blockchain was the core infrastructure for the cryptocurrency, bitcoin. It is a type of distributed network that keeps track of all the transaction records on linked records and uses encrypted digital ledgers to store them safely. All the authorized users who have the power to add to the blockchain can share it among themselves.
The best part about the blockchain is that none of the authorized users can alter or delete the transactions or records unless everyone else agrees with the decision. Every single entry on the blockchain comes with date and time stamps. Moreover, all the updates that the authorized users make, they will be replicated throughout the network.
How does the blockchain impact the healthcare industry?
Blockchains open up the possibility of improving a significant portion of the healthcare operations. Blockchains will ensure that the healthcare industry continues to tread in the right direction. Billing, medical research, patient records, and clinical trials are some of the areas that will witness positive changes.
Here are five ways blockchain will impact the healthcare industry:
Blockchains make data management of medical records simple and straightforward. Providers who have access to the blockchain can go through all the records of the patients. It eliminates duplication as they can perform checks before updating the data. On top of that, it also reduces the time taken by the providers obtain the data.
Also, if the patients are willing, they can share their medical records with researchers so that development of medications can develop at a faster rate. It also allows providers to exchange data in real time, thus eliminating data reconciliation out of the picture.
Integrity of supply chain and development of drugs
Pharmaceutical companies all over the world lose billions of dollars due to the distribution of counterfeit drugs. However, blockchains will eliminate this as it allows the companies to go through the chain of custody. They will help the companies to keep track of all the stages in supply chain management, all the way to the products at an individual level.
Smart contracts and private keys allow the establishment of proof of ownership for various drugs in the market. As a result of this, companies can pinpoint owners in the supply chain at any given point.
At present, all the systems in the healthcare industry are too disconnected and diverse for humans to go through all the data. These types of data need macro analysis, for better treatment options.
Blockchains are good for medical research because it centralizes all the patient data. Storage of all the clinical trials will be in the same place, which improves patient care and outcomes considerably as the data can be interrelated easily. In other words, blockchains will make it easier for medical innovations to gain limelight.
Security of data
To improve the services of the healthcare industry, they started deploying Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). However, the problem with all the devices getting interconnected is that the IT architecture of the medical industry isn’t good enough to keep the data secure.
However, blockchains will make the data secure, while ensuring that the healthcare industry reaps the benefits of IoMT. For example, if someone tries to adjust one of the many blocks, they will need the approval of the majority of the participants in the network. As a result of this, there will be lesser chances of malicious activity.
Unambiguous billing system
The healthcare industry loses out millions of dollars every year because of frauds. With the introduction of blockchains, it will make the entire billing system transparent. Due to blockchains, healthcare providers can implement realistic solutions which will minimize frauds.
There will be automatic verification of claims and billing, which reduces the administrative costs significantly. Also, it eliminates the need for intermediaries, which is another advantage.
These are the five ways the blockchain can impact the healthcare industry. Blockchains will continue to get better, which will ultimately improve every industry in the world, including healthcare.
Brought to you by BlockchainSingapore
Also published on Medium.