Blockchain or distributed ledger technology has stormed not only the financial sector but various other sectors like agriculture, logistics, supply chain management, healthcare, education and many more. Blockchain technology works on a decentralization model to transfer the information directly from source to destination with no interference of any intermediary. The record of transactions distributes all across the blockchain network after the validation by the consensus mechanism rather maintained by the central authority. Cryptographic techniques like private and public keys, hashing functions, Merkle trees and many more assures the trustless secured network. Features of non-immutability ensure that data duplicity and tampering is impossible. In this article, we will understand how innovative Blockchain technology can overcome the challenges faced by the healthcare sector. Also, learn about the benefits of Blockchain in healthcare sector.
Healthcare sector is one of the most important sectors which requires the unhindered evolutions to maintain a database of several diseases, developing new vaccines, tracking the supply of pharmaceuticals, analysing the data of patients and many more. According to a report by BIS Research, Blockchain technology has the potential to reduce the costs in the healthcare industry around $100-$150 billion by 2025 by saving the costs related to breach of data, Information Technology, operation and logistics; and also decreasing the frauds and counterfeiting. The report further advocated that healthcare is planning to spend approximately $5.61 billion on Blockchain technology by 2025. Let us find out the challenges in the health sector along with the benefits of Blockchain in healthcare sector.
Day by day, the Pharma sector is turning competitive, leading to more centralisation of data researched. But the centralised databases seem to create difficulties for researchers and drug trial clinics who need the data to carry out further research. Biotechnology sector of the healthcare industry is constantly developing new techniques, drugs or treatments for the benefit of society. If the data related to particular research gets systematically arranged through Blockchain technology all across the globe, it would not only reduce the time in data collecting, researching and analysing but also save the lives of many patients by providing the timely treatment. For instance, MIT Enigma provides the Blockchain-based secret-sharing platform, which allows researchers to share the data of clinical studies in a private network, taking the benefits of blockchain in healthcare.
The exercise to maintain the records of transactions of different processes from research to launch of any drug is called bookkeeping. In the healthcare sector, to keep track of the cost of processes which includes clinical trials, costs of chemicals used, administration costs, and many more. The difficulty in the bookkeeping process leads to the mismanagement of healthcare expenditure.
With the help of the Blockchain network, data can be stored and sorted easily related to cost incurred at every stage. As the data gets recorded in a tamper-proof manner, there is minimal chance of data manipulation. The information recorded on Blockchain can be utilised for auditing balance sheets and also in making the treatment workable by analysing the insights of the problems at each stage. For instance, Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharma company recently announced the integration of Blockchain in their network to reduce the complexity associated with activities of financial reporting.
Data related to the medical history of the patient and diagnostic reports are analysed before any treatment. And the patient has to submit the documents again if the treatment of one doctor does not suit or need a further recommendation from another doctor or any specialist. The patient has to submit the documents again and again before consulting the doctor because of the centralisation of data wasting the time and energy to secure and transferring the records. Also, before performing crucial operations, permissions from patients or family need to be taken beforehand, which usually consumes the time. Along with the problem of the chaotic process of transferring the data and the consent process, privacy and security of data is also a major concern. Blockchain technology can help in organizing the medical records, accurately across the whole medical industry (with limited accessibility) and history. It ensures the faster speed of diagnosis of the disease with the most efficient treatments available on a decentralised network. We can transfer the data of the patient from one doctor to another by providing him with some required passwords or keys which assure the accessibility of records of patients along with their security. Like healthcare blockchain companies 4Medica, HealthVerity, etc are utilising the Blockchain network for maintaining the data of the patient in the decentralised cost-effective network and serving as the platform for managing and sharing the data by benefits of Blockchain in healthcare.
Some illicit companies and malicious groups are blotting the healthcare industry by duplicating the medicines and introducing them into medical shops (which sometimes end up in ending their lives!). Scrapped manufacturing techniques, retarded storage facilities, manipulating the data of drug making and also the introduction of counterfeited drugs are several major challenges in the healthcare sector. They hit the credibility and integrity of the sector. To Maintain and track records of particular medicine from the development stage to transportation with the help of Blockchain health informatics can result in reducing the massive loss bear by the pharma companies every year.
People purchase their health insurance policies to secure themselves from the enormous burden of medical expenses during urgency. But, the insurance companies take a lot of time and energy to verify the terms and conditions of the medical claim of the insurer at the time of claiming the policy. Most of the companies do not deploy digital payment systems resulting in the wastage of time while getting the money. Blockchain-based smart contracts or digital contracts can be used to transfer the payments in the medical insurance industry. Blockchain in health insurance can help in easing receiving claims and completion of the transaction by drawing the contracts between hospitals or clients and insurance companies. For instance, Project Dovetail utilises the smart contract platform of Intelligent Healthcare Network and TIBCO’s smart contract project for hassle-free and verifiable transactions.
Thus, it can be concluded that the benefits of Blockchain in healthcare cannot be overlooked. Blockchain aims to reduce the complexity and boosts the security of the healthcare network. To implement the blockchain in the healthcare industry is challenging, but the results have the potential to outweigh the risks and challenges associated with the sector. Blockchain can completely transform the healthcare sector if implemented properly.