Blockchain: The Emerging and Disruptive Technology in Healthcare

Today’s technologies are emerging at a very rapid pace. Not every technology has the potential to alter the business landscape, but some have the potential to disrupt the current status of things. Blockchain is one of them. Blockchain must be understood and embraced for the advantages it can bring to a business. And while the healthcare industry has been late in adopting blockchain compared to other industries, it is never too late to get started.

Blockchain is a shared, distributed, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked blocks and stored in a digital ledger. Traditionally, privacy, security and authentication of transactions were designed and implemented as a centralized system. Blockchain, however, changes the centralized control. It brings in distributed storage of data when there is no single owner and information is shared between entities without an existing pre-trust. But this is based on existing contracts (rules) and encryption as a way to protect unauthorized change to data.

In layman’s terms, blockchain is simply a distributed and write-once-read-only record of digital events in a chronological order that is shared in a peer-to-peer network. In healthcare, critical information is scattered across multiple systems and is oftentimes not accessible when needed the most. Our current healthcare infrastructure is essentially inadequate to handle large volumes of information exchange. But when incorporated correctly, blockchain can transform how we view healthcare IT and data together.

With blockchain, users are in control of their information and transactions. Since healthcare means working with confidential patient information often needed to be accessed quickly, blockchain can help streamline medical records and enable them to be shared in a secure way. Simply stated, the biggest advantage of blockchain in healthcare IT is its ability to provide access security, scalability and data privacy to enhance the consumer healthcare experience.

The concept of blockchain in healthcare IT is disruptive because of the enormous issue of data management. Blockchain is an evolutionary journey, and one that, when implemented correctly, will provide enormous value to the healthcare IT industry.

Benefits in Healthcare
The benefits of blockchain are many, but four primary benefits exist for healthcare:

  • Organizations can save time and costs while reducing risks
  • Intermediaries are removed, resulting in increased trust and integrity of data
  • Businesses see a lower cost of audit and regulatory compliance with improved transparency
  • Increased speed of execution which allows businesses to build new revenue streams to better interact with clients.

Use Cases in Healthcare
Healthcare organizations can utilize blockchain to help streamline specific processes. One such example is the ability within blockchain to incorporate single, longitudinal patient records. Longitudinal patient records are a compilation of episodes, disease registries, lab results, scans and treatment that can all be complied through blockchain. This includes inpatient, ambulatory and wearable data that actually assists providers in developing better ways to deliver patient care.

Another business usage example is how blockchain can benefit healthcare companies in dealing with drug traceability. Since all transactions in blockchain are timestamped and immutable, it is easy to detect fraudulent drug dealers. Once a drug is produced and moves from the manufacturer to the retailer, the operational data is recorded in the blockchain. This makes it extremely easy to verify the entire path of the drug and determine all chain links at any time.

Blockchain has existed for years, but its capabilities and technology are not completely understood by healthcare organizations. It is certainly not a quick solution for industry challenges concerning data privacy, interoperability and security, but blockchain has the potential to make healthcare processes more streamlined for consumers while realizing cost and time savings for businesses.

Ready to embrace blockchain? Contact us today to learn more about getting started.

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