A study conducted by tech giant IBM has revealed that among healthcare executives about 16% of them are this year planning on implementing a commercial blockchain solution. The number of executives who have the same plans by 2020 is 56%.
Some of the issues in the healthcare sector that the blockchain could solve include creating a common health information database which would be accessible to providers and doctors regardless of the electronic medical system they are using. Additionally the blockchain could increase the level of privacy and security besides ensuring that doctors spend less time on administrative matters and more on caring for patients. The blockchain could also make better sharing of research results possible and thus facilitating new treatments.
Though the principles of the blockchain initially found use in the financial sector, it has since then made its way to other industries such as healthcare. One of the biggest problems facing the healthcare sector is the huge amount of data that are generated on a daily basis. This includes billing records, patient medical records, clinical trials, medical research and so on. Blockchain technology could thus be useful with regards to medical data management.
One prototype that is using a blockchain to fulfill this is MedRec which aims to enhance electronic medical records with a view to allowing the access of records belonging to patients by any provider. This will save time and money as well as avoid duplication with regards to procedures. With MedRec providers and patients will have a one-stop access to the entire medical history of the patient from all the providers the patient has ever visited.
Patients can also allow researchers to access their medical records and all this would be done anonymously for research purposes. This raises the possibility that medical breakthroughs will be faster to realize when compared to how sharing or lack thereof is today.
Another area in healthcare that could be transformed by the blockchain technology is in the development and supply of drugs. The blockchain technology has the potential to make possible new drug development since it would ensure that the results of patients are widely accessible, with the consent of the patients. Additionally this could assist in reducing counterfeit drugs which currently as costing drug firms approximately $200 billion on an annual basis.
The blockchain technology could also assist in curbing fraud in healthcare. In the United States Medicare fraud resulted in losses of over $30 million in 2016. Besides helping in minimizing such fraud, the blockchain technology could also assist in cutting the administrative costs associated with billing. This is because with more efficient processing and automation there would no longer be a need for intermediaries or middlemen.
When the results of patient outcomes and clinical trials are centralized there would be an improvement in patient care and outcomes. At the moment data is held in diverse and disconnected places making it impossible to process the data with a view to using it in developing future treatments.
Per a report compiled by Protenus Breach Barometer there were a 140 million patient records breached between 2015 and 2016. A blockchain solutions could help in keeping patient data secure and private.
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