Healthcare organizations need advanced technologies to manage medical records and improve patient care. But even the most advanced technologies come with challenges. One disruptive problem in healthcare of interest to experts is blockchain, and here’s why.
What is blockchain?
Although the technology is known for enabling cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, blockchain was immediately recognized as having a broader value beyond an alternative form of currency. To understand why it's so vital, you need to be familiar with three key concepts:
These are encrypted data or documents. In healthcare, these can be in the form of test results.
Chains make data harder to counterfeit by linking every block with the one that preceded it using an encrypted address.
- Decentralized networks
By using decentralized networks, each computer in the network can check for suspicious alterations in the chain. Every block that is added to the chain gets distributed to all the computers in the network, and when one computer tries to alter previous blocks, others can compare it with their local copies and recognize it as fake.
Blockchain was originally developed to eliminate the need for centralized banks to process and validate transactions. The technology allows people to transfer money freely because each computer in the blockchain network can examine the chain and confirm whether a transaction is legitimate.
This way, transactions are much safer and more efficient. They cannot be altered unless the security of every computer in the network gets compromised simultaneously. That level of data security and integrity is handy for reducing costs in the healthcare industry.
Blockchain technology in healthcare
Even with the use of digital files, data loss continues to be one of the biggest problems in healthcare. This resulted to $1.7 billion in damages and as many as 2,000 lives lost in the US, according to CRICO Strategies CBS report in 2016.
Here’s how blockchain can address the problem of data loss and miscommunication:
- Medical histories and records can be stored in a chain that patients can access and control. If a primary care physician needs to see the patient’s medical history, they can see it as soon as the patient gives authorization.
- Payments between banks, government entities, insurance providers, and patients can all be coordinated in a fraction of the time without costly intermediaries.
- Healthcare equipment usage, depreciation, and lifecycles can be automatically tracked in a chain to keep tabs on the status of expensive and fragile fixtures.
What’s more, ransomware has taken a toll on data security in healthcare, and service providers are relying on costly solutions to keep up with the exponential growth in digital records. Blockchain technology can resolve both these issues at once.
Adopting new technology can be intimidating, especially for an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare. Blockchain technology has already been adopted by several organizations, but before you embrace this trend, you need full-time IT experts to assess your systems and manage your security. To learn more about how you can use blockchain in healthcare, give us a call.