Emerging technologies such as blockchain can aid both medical practitioners and patients, who stand to gain the best from its implementation.
Before 2009, cryptocurrency and blockchain were not popular terms. However, since their release as open-source software that year, the underlying technology has become a crucial driver for various industries, including finance, gaming, health care, engineering and agriculture. The size of the blockchain industry is expected to reach a stunning $23.3 billion in 2023.
Blockchain technology is a decentralized, digitized ledger or database for storing “blocks” of information. It allows for the transfer of ownership of units using an encryption system without requiring control by the government or a central bank. In this article, we will discuss how blockchain will revolutionize the healthcare industry.
Blockchain eliminates breaches in doctor-patient confidentiality
Although the healthcare industry has, since inception, insisted on its quality of patient confidentiality, it has been plagued by insufficient security and hacking of patients’ medical records for many years. Many healthcare professionals have even been exposed to litigation on account of a breach in health records.
With the adaptation of blockchain tech into the sector, not only can health records be stored on the blockchain, but patients also get to decide who can access their information. This way, responsibility is maintained by the health professional, any breach of patient health information can be easily traced, and unauthorized third-party access to sensitive information can be eliminated.
Blockchain prevents medical errors
A study published by Johns Hopkins patient safety experts suggests that in the United States, over 250,000 people die every year due to medical errors. This is particularly alarming when considering the leading cause of death in the U.S.—heart disease—which is responsible for about 647,000 deaths annually.
Blockchain data can only be added, not erased. This is precisely how health information should be stored. Physicians can access the historical medical records of their patients from their very first hospital visit. Dr. David Classen, a chief medical information officer at Pascal metrics, admitted in an interview that the system of care is fragmented. He continued, “Any tools that enable patients to manage their health-care needs will be a game-changer.” Blockchain has come to effectively dissolve the dilemma of errors and digitize patient health records.
Blockchain improves research in medicine
Medicine is, without a doubt, a vastly dynamic field. Every day, thousands of health professionals seek new ways to improve patient care and satisfaction. This is the primary motivation behind the many research works and clinical trials in medicine today.
Unfortunately, there is no effective central system for sharing research data. Much of the research data has been segregated and, although many researchers would love to compare trial results with fellow researchers, there is really no digital system to do so.
Embracing the blockchain industry can put an end to this dichotomy. In a secure digital system, researchers worldwide can, with patients’ permission, access an extensive database of information that would help accelerate improvement in healthcare and make the world a better place. Who knows? Blockchain might even help put an end to cancer.
Blockchain can help manage and prevent future pandemics
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is no doubt the biggest event of the year. Finally, the healthcare system is being put to its biggest test in nearly a century. The World Health Organization is coming under increased scrutiny, false information is on the rise daily, and developing and sharing triage procedures has been tedious — one of the major problems in this being the adequate storage and rapid circulation of data in real time.
The Center for Disease Control, in partnership with the WHO and IBM, has already set up a project to use blockchain to track, store and disburse sensitive information in real time to health centers for effective and uniform management of pandemics. With this tool, ravaging epidemics like COVID-19 can be stopped sooner than expected.
Blockchain will help reduce health cost
According to a report published by Bisresearch, the adoption of blockchain in the healthcare industry is estimated to save up to $100 billion yearly by 2025. Via tokenization, thereby eliminating avoidable third-party clients, counterfeit pharmaceutical products and malicious software, the industry would take a tremendous drift toward complete transparency and accountability, and ultimately save money for both patients and healthcare companies.
While it can be argued that digitizing and transferring health information in blocks can be quite cumbersome, the inevitability of blockchain in every industry is gradually catching up with the healthcare industry. Without a doubt, both the medical practitioner and the patient stand to gain the most from this revolution.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.