A blockchain is a chain of blocks linked together using hashing technique. Each block consists of some timestamped records of information such as financial, healthcare, confidential data, etc. The Blockchain network is managed by a group of users on a decentralized network. All the information is available on a distributed ledger to all the users for transparency. The important and confidential data is encrypted using cryptographic algorithms such as RSA-256. Blockchain is the most hyped technology of Internet 4.0 as it has enhanced security over the internet drastically. Using blockchain on your application or services, security breaching can be reduced by 99% because nothing is 100% secure. The world of computers is working on binary digits and that can be hacked after some decoding but blockchain encodes the data in a way that is not practical to decode easily. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of blockchain in the healthcare sector.
Why Blockchain for Healthcare Sector?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger system that records transactions in a database made up of blocks where blocks are chained together with the hash value to form a chain-like structure. Blockchain has many features that make them a good choice for the healthcare systems:
- Secure: Blockchain is a secure network of blocks. Once a block is added to the blockchain, it will require the consensus of the majority of other nodes in the network to alter the data in the block.
- Decentralized: Blockchain is a decentralized network of nodes where no one has to trust or know anyone else in the network. Each member in the network has exact same copy of data as other nodes in the network. If a member’s ledger is altered, then it will be rejected by the majority of the member nodes in the network.
- Self-correcting: When the data in one of the blocks in the network is changed then other nodes in the network check their blocks, and cross-reference each other to root out the error.
- Distributed: Blockchain is a distributed ledger where independent computers record, share, and synchronize the transactions in their respective electronic ledgers.
Benefits of Blockchain in the Healthcare Sector
1. Securing Patient Data: In the healthcare sector, securing patient data is the most critical part. Tampering the patient records can create problems to identify the disease or problem in the patient by the doctors and hospitals. Between the years 2009 and 2017, around 176+ million patient records were breached. The hackers stole the credit card and bank information and used them in unethical ways. Blockchain is a tamper-proof, distributed, and incorruptible helps in accessing patient data in a much easier and more secure way.
2. Medical Drugs Supply Chain Management: Medicines or drugs are not made in hospitals. They are made in labs and pharmaceutical companies around the world. These drugs are further supplied across the countries according to their needs. What happens if someone tampers the drugs while transporting them across the country? So, the medical supply chain has to be tamper-proof and transparent for the importers and exporters. Blockchain fades away this problem as blockchain has features such as transparency, decentralization, and tamper-proof. Once a distributed ledger is created for the drug, each transporting point will be entered into the blockchain from point of origin to destination making it transparent across the transportation.
3. Single Longitudinal Patient Records: As blockchain is a chain of blocks, every type of patient record will be entered into the blockchain ledger. Records such as disease history, lab test results, treatment fees, etc. can help in forecasting the disease based on his next visit using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Using these precompiled records helps hospitals in offering discounts to their customers by analyzing these records. Also, it will help in mastering patient indices making records streamline carefully, and preventing costly mistakes.
4. Supply chain optimization: Primary challenge in the healthcare sector is to ensure the authenticity of the origin of medical goods to ensure the authenticity of medicines. With the help of blockchain technology, the foods can be traced from manufacturing to every stage of the supply chain. This enables the complete visibility, and transparency of the goods to buy. This can help companies to apply AI and predict demand better and optimize the supply accordingly and at the same time, it can increase the confidence of the customers.
5. Drug Traceability: Blockchain is the most reliable, dependable, secure solution to track every drug to its roots. Every block of data containing drug information will have a hash value linked to another block of data. This hash value ensures that the data has not been tampered with. The transactions in the blockchain are visible to all authorized parties. Medicine buyers will be able to ensure the authenticity of the purchased products by scanning the QR code and looking up all the necessary information like manufacturer’s detail, etc.
6. Cryptocurrency Payments: Blockchain makes it possible to receive medical assistance and pay for those services in cryptocurrency. For example, Aveon Health and Micropayment are the technology that is based on Blockchain and uses the advantages of Blockchain technology. Aveon Health uses the advantages of Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The micropayment model will record every detail of the patient’s activities related to the treatment reexamination.
7. Decentralized storage of medical records: The interplanetary file system (IPFS) enables storing versioned file data in decentralized storage environments. The filesystem creates a single hash called base configured IED description which ensures that all the versions of the files are identical. The hash returned by the IPFS allows users to access data on websites, but because blockchain files are immutable and websites changes regularly and DNS would need to be changed after each update. Thus, IPFS solves this problem by mapping site addresses to DNS.
8. Update medical supply chain management: Blockchain’s security, reliability, and decentralized storage make it well-suited for the managing, and monitoring of the movement of drug supplies. It helps to create a trusted network of vendors to enhance patient safety. Blockchain integrates all the processes like production, packaging, distribution, transportation, and warehouse information in a single immutable record that is stored securely.
9. Improves electronic health record systems: Electronic health record systems are the health data in digital format that is created and stored by multiple healthcare facilities. Blockchain addresses shortcomings like accessibility, interoperability, and authentication by linking electronic health records and sharing ownership of the records among all stakeholders.
10. Improved recruitment for clinical trials: Researchers have created an Ethereum-based blockchain that simulates the recruitment process. The resulting blockchain-based system allows all researchers to view trial information while protecting the privacy of the trial participants.