21st February 2018 Perspectives 5 Opportunities for the Blockchain in Healthcare The use of the blockchain in healthcare systems is not a new concept, and more opportunities are emerging for the technology within the industry. Experts have realized the potential of using blockchain systems to reduce intermediaries and accelerate the efficiency procedures, leading to benefits within areas such as patient care, medical research and decreased financial costs for both patients and providers in the healthcare industry. 1. Data Security and Integrity Healthcare systems are riddled with middlemen and bureaucratic procedures. Employing the blockchain in healthcare systems can provide solutions to ease the exchange of data in a secure and transparent manner. Current systems are flawed in this sense as records are revocable and exposed to human error or tampering. According to a report published by Deloitte, there were 112 million technological breaches in health record data in the year 2015. Blockchain technology holds promise in providing more integrity within the data exchange by hard-coding public healthcare information into encrypted algorithms, allow for the real-time sharing of data, and the reduction of inconsistencies in standards. 2. Supply Chain The uses of blockchain in healthcare extend to the pharmaceutical supply chain. Pharmaceutical products pass through many different hands in their journey from production to patients and this flow is not at all secure, allowing unregulated, counterfeit drugs to infiltrate the supply chain. These substandard drugs put the end-users–the patients at risk for more health issues The blockchain can be used to manage the drug development process via the imposition of smart contracts and real-time records of the transfer of assets that can be openly tracked by both authorised parties and patients, ensuring that the drugs that are supplied are genuine. 3. Medical Records As we explored in our previous article on blockchain and medical records, blockchain technology can provide a ledger of patient data, where patients have control over their information and can provide access to authorized parties such as doctors or insurance providers. This also allows information to be easily updated and stored in append-only blocks that are time-stamped for security. 4. Payments and Billing In the United States, around $68 billion is lost each year within healthcare spending due to fraud. Blockchain systems can be used to prevent such occurrences by removing third-party involvement for billing management, thus reducing outlets for exploitation and allowing for a direct, trackable flow of information between parties. 5. Research Clinical research has seen challenges with centralized data sharing, participant enrolment and other data storage protocols surrounding research procedures. The process is riddled with disparate record systems, where the reproduction of information and the accreditation of data cannot be easily verified. Using the blockchain to regulate the research process can ensure that all parties involved have a high degree of control over the data, as well as the access to relevant data records–making vital information accessible in a secure manner. The blockchain also allows for the use of smart contracts to enable transparent tracking of academic information, privacy preservation for research subjects, and the crediting of clinical trial stakeholders, without running the risk of either party repudiating it. Did you enjoy reading this article? You might also be interested in reading: The Future of Medical Records and Estonia and Dubai Test Medical Records on the Blockchain. Image credits: F.E. Warren Air Force Base, niekverlaan (Pixabay) To learn more about blockchain applications across different industries, visit Coinify Newsroom.