Many people have heard a lot about the blockchain in frames of a cryptocurrency called Bitcoin; however, it can have a much wider use than a simple payment method, including various industries. So, how does blockchain actually work in the healthcare industry?
What is the block chain that everyone is talking about? It is a technology that creates immutable and distributable data records which are shared peer to peer between networked database systems. The technology records digital events in a way that does not allow for the data to be changed or recognized until it reaches the recipient. That is why the most significant advantage of block chain is the idea that data is theoretically secured and protected from data breach threats. With widespread and rapidly increasing use, this technology is of particular interest to financial organizations. According to data from the Silicon Republic, block chain startups raised $1.4 billion in 2016 and $1 million in 2017. The financial sector has already realized the benefits of using blockchain. In total, the banks that use this technology save $8–12 billion annually. Will medical organizations be able to benefit from cryptography? Blockchain opportunities for healthcare are plentiful and here, we will cover the future potential of this technology in the industry and consider current usage.
Advantages of Blockchain in Healthcare
The blockchain era has already begun. Taking into account the fast progress in the development of new and more efficient healthcare record systems, wearable devices, and medical examination systems implementing artificial intelligence, cryptography will become an important part of the way hospitals work. There are, however, a few improvements still needed in order for seamless blockchain adoption across the entire medical industry. According to Hyperledger’s survey, 42.9% of healthcare organizations suppose that the interoperability of electronic health records will help for faster blockchain implementation; with 28.6% of respondents ready to use this technology in care settings today. So, what are the benefits of blockchain technology in healthcare?
Data Provenance and Integrity
With an ongoing increase in patient numbers, healthcare providers have to manage more and more health data on a regular basis. As the data volume increases each year, it becomes harder for hospitals and clinics to process and store information.
Data managed by medical organizations includes:
· Patient health information (PHI);
· Electronic health records;
· Data collected from IoT devices (Internet of Things) or monitoring systems; and,
· Medical insurance claims.
Secure information sharing methods, which allow both healthcare providers and their covered entities to verify the correctness of data, are crucial for ensuring proper medical services. This is where blockchain comes in useful, as one of its main advantages is data integrity. When information is recorded and encrypted, it becomes impossible to change or remove.
One of the blockchain approaches that allows for the secure recording and sharing of information is anchoring data to the public blockchain. This method involves generating a proof of data integrity. Using this proof, any user can verify the data timestamp without the need to rely on third-parties. This method allows users to:
· Verify PHI integrity;
· Perform unchangeable medical audits;
· Prove the integrity of clinical research results;
· Reduce audit expenses and ensure regulatory compliance; and,
· Ensure data safety.