The Potential of Blockchain in Healthcare: Benefits, Challenges & More

Blockchain is a new and a most promising technology that has been leveraging the potential of different industries for some time now. We all are well aware of how blockchain technology has helped various industries with data protection and security. Like any other industry, the health care sector has also harnessed the benefits of blockchain to resolve some of the harrowing challenges it has to face. Whether it is maintaining patients’ records or recording transactions, blockchain has helped the health sector in many ways. 

Some of the significant features of blockchain have been able to help the health sector in addressing the core challenges like managing patients’ data. With the abundance of patient data accumulated on a daily basis, it becomes challenging to have centralized control. With blockchain, health institutions can have this centralized control of healthcare data and will be able to manage them in a better way. 

In this article, you will get to know how blockchain is being implemented in the health sector and how it can revolutionize it.

Blockchain Entering The Medical World

It is a well-known fact that prior to 2009, blockchain and cryptocurrency were nothing but a far-fetched dream. However, things changed over the years, and we can witness widespread blockchain usage in every industry. From gaming, finance, engineering to even agriculture, every industry has tried blockchain some way or another. The health care sector is also on this list. 

Blockchain is a decentralized technology and a digitized ledger, it stores all the information in blocks and constitutes the perfect solution to all the health data protection issues related to the health sector. Let’s see how this magic has helped the medical industry. 

Eliminating the Breaches of Confidentiality Between Patient-Doctor

Since doctors and patients have to discuss a lot of things that need to be kept confidential, it is highly important to make sure that the information is secured between the doctor and patient. No matter how hard the healthcare industry has tried to preserve the quality of patients’ confidentiality, there have been some loopholes that affect the integrity of the information. There are chances of hacking the patients’ data. Many healthcare professionals have also suffered from the breaches of health records. 

But today, the tables have turned – and that is due to blockchain. It is not just about patients’ records anymore – blockchain also allows the patients to decide with whom their data can be shared. It is an ideal way to maintain confidentiality. The events of hacks can be easily traced, and any unauthorized access will be easily denied. 

Preventing All Sorts of Medical Errors

Like any other industry, the medical sector is also prone to errors that can be fatal. According to a study by John Hopkins in the United States, around 250,000 deaths have occurred following medical errors. This becomes even more concerning when 67% of the cases with respect to the leading cause of death in America, i.e., heart disease, are caused by error reports. It is high time that the medical sector adopted a technology that can minimize these errors and decrease the death count. 

That’s where blockchain makes its entry. We all know that in blockchain, the data can only be added and never be erased. Well, the medical sector should have adopted this method a long time ago. All the doctors can access the patients’ health care data and see their medical history right from its very beginning. Each data will be stored in a decentralized system that leaves no chances for errors or alterations. Blockchain has rightly addressed the issue of errors by digitizing health records. 

Promoting Health Research

The medical sector is undoubtedly a vast domain that will definitely expand as time passes by. Every hour and every day, medical professionals are seeking new ways to bring innovation into the field of medicine to improve patient care. Medical research is primarily aimed at conducting clinical trials to make way for the next medical revolution. While being effective, these researches have no central system to be based on that allows to store or share the research data. Although there is an appropriate segregation method, there needs to be a system to compare the researchers’ trials. A digital system to manage the research is much needed. 

The medical sector has embraced blockchain technology to find a solution to this issue. With blockchain, researchers can have a digital health system to store and share their data worldwide. They can have access to the patients’ data as well with their permission for the research purpose. It is focused on bringing improvements in health care research. Digital researches, with the help of electronic health records, might even lead to bringing some great innovation in the health care sector. 

Reducing Health Cost

Maintaining patients’ records and managing the other services requires finances. A report from Bisresearch tells us that Blockchain in the healthcare system sector can save up to $100 billion every year in the next five years. Blockchain has provided a brand new way for making payments safely. With the help of tokenization, blockchain will be able to eliminate third-party clients and malicious software. It will eventually bring transparency and accountability to medical payments that will save money for the industry. 

At some point, it can be argued that the transfer of health information into blocks can be a cumbersome task. It might be true to some extent, but the blockchain is gradually gaining traction, and within no time, it will make things easier in the medical sector as well. More and more health institutions have to adopt blockchain in order to make almost everything possible.

Managing and Even Preventing Any Future Pandemic

We all have been struggling with the current pandemic situation in different ways. The COVID-19 outbreak is the biggest and the most dreadful event of the year. It is the time when the global medical sector is being tested for its credibility. The World Health Organization is under scrutiny since the pandemic has taken a lot of human lives. There is a lot of fake information circulating among the public, creating an environment of tension and stress. It is one of the major issues in the medical sector. Currently, that data is not being stored properly. It is important to reduce the rapid circulation of the fake data and mitigate its consequences. 

WHO and IBM have partnered with the Center for Disease Control to set up a project in collaboration with blockchain. It will be introduced to store, track, and disburse the sensitive data in real-time with proper management of pandemics. With the proper tools like blockchain, the casualties, and data circulation during the time of pandemic can be prevented. Right now, hige amounts of date get accumulated during this pandemic situation, which calls for a central system of health data. All the patients’ digital medical records can be stored with blockchain solutions that can be further used for research purposes. 

Facts To Know About Blockchain in Healthcare

Blockchain is at the forefront of the medical sector and the way it helps the industry is invaluable. The above-mentioned points are just enough to prove its importance in the medical world. Here are a few more points that mark its potential in healthcare:

  • Blockchain emerged in the year 2009 as an online record of transactions. Bitcoin was later introduced as its first currency. 
  • The data can be shared among a network that minimizes or eliminates the chances of breaches. It makes the perfect digital companion for the medical sector to store the data safely and manage the medical records. 
  • Each transaction in the blockchain is conducted through blocks and the ledger keeps track of everything without the possibility of errors.
  • As all the transactions are directly entered into the distributed ledger, there is no middleman involved that can be used as a loophole in the entire system. The medical sector has harnessed this capability to make its payment system even more secured.
  • Digital assets can be used to make the payments in the healthcare sector to make it all even more secured for the patients. 
  • In the upcoming five years, there will be extended blockchain applications in the medical industry, starting with secure doctor-patient confidentiality, ledger facilities, research, and practice, etc. 
  • There have been plenty of use cases of blockchain in the medical sector already. For instance, many Big Data, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity companies are extending their blockchain capabilities to keep patients’ data safe. 

The Bottom Line

It is high time the world realized the prominence of blockchain solutions and its potential. Be it finance, business, or tech; almost every industry has now realized the perks of blockchain. Now the medical sector is gradually implementing blockchain into its system for better management and to get a holistic approach to every function. It is by aiding medical professionals, patients, and various institutions that blockchain makes the world a better place.