A long list of industries has been disrupted by Blockchain technology. The healthcare industry is now on that list. And the blockchain may be the solution to a number of current issues in the healthcare industry.
A study by IBM discovered that 16 percent of healthcare execs had plans to utilize blockchain technology last year. Another 56 percent surveyed in the IBM study also noted that they would begin to implement the technology by 2020.
From medical data management to research, the blockchain can be very useful for healthcare companies and tech innovators alike. Let’s take a deeper look into what blockchain technology is, and how it will reshape the healthcare industry.
What is Blockchain Technology?
Blockchain technology supports blockchains, which are distributed decentralized ledgers where peer-to-peer transactions take place. Each transaction, or block, is created, encrypted, verified, and enforced in real-time. Every transaction (block) is on a chain, hence the name.
Blockchains are far more secure than traditional financial transactions, and there is no centralized administrator. Smart contracts can be created and enforced on the blockchain, cryptocurrency can be exchanged, and a number of other new tech savvy processes can be utilized by individuals, as well as healthcare companies.
Blockchain Technology is the Future of the Healthcare Industry
There are a variety of ways blockchain technology can disrupt the healthcare industry in a positive way. However, it is certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution for many of the industry’s issues.
Research, clinical trials, data, electronic patient records, complex billing, and more all make up the many issues healthcare companies struggle to streamline daily. Can blockchain technology ease the load? Yes. Here’s how:
1. Blockchain and Medical Data Management
Electronic medical records are an essential in the healthcare industry. One study found that less than one in three hospitals can access and send patient electronic medical records. This points to a clear need for blockchain technology, helping hospitals achieve an efficient way to manage medical data.
Blockchain technology could change this. For example, MedRec is a healthcare tech company that aims to use blockchain technology to make accessing, sending, and receiving electronic medical records easier and more cost effective.
Patients and healthcare providers could essentially have a one-stop shop for medical history. This would have a big impact on the industry. But how secure will patient data be?
2. Blockchain Data Security
One of the biggest draws to blockchain technology for the healthcare industry is its encrypted, high-level of data security. When dealing with anything medical, patient confidentiality and personal information security is of the utmost importance.
Did you know that in 2016 there was at least one data breach per day in the healthcare industry? This led to more than 27 million patient records being exposed. This is a common issue in healthcare, but blockchain technology could make the industry’s future data security a bit brighter.
Blockchain technology has the infrastructure to keep health data secure, as well as easily accessible across multiple platforms, devices, and places of patient care.
3. Drug Development and Medical Research
Drug development has a few current obstacles. For instance, the counterfeit drug implications costing pharmaceutical companies in upwards of $200 billion per year. In fact, a study published in American health and Drug Benefits (2014) found counterfeit drugs to decrease research for the development of new potential treatments.
Blockchain technology could make patient results easy to access and reduce the counterfeit issues substantially.
The blockchain can also open the door for the centralization of clinical trial data. This would make access to trials and patient outcomes faster, bringing new, essential innovations to patients quicker.
Wrapping Up . . .
The blockchain enhancements of several health processes will definitely disrupt the healthcare industry. Some blockchain technologies are currently being used. However, it is important to note that it will likely be a long-term shift.
There are a lot of factors that could cause the cryptocurrency market to change, leading to potential pauses in blockchain technology and innovative growth, like the developments of decentralized apps (DAPPS) for example.
Testing and qualifying new blockchain technologies as they relate to specific healthcare issues is key. The rise of future blockchain tech will also be a determining factor as well. It will certainly be exciting to watch the shift happen in real-time as both innovators and patients.
Nick Rojas – Top iCoin Contributor