Blockchain in essence – not just bitcoins. How a blockchain technology can be applied in healthcare
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is basically one of the most advanced and safe data storage scripts. It implies the distribution of information among hundreds and thousands of computers all over the world. The security breach or any changes in data shared through those server chains are almost completely prevented by such structure. The hackers would have to gain access to all computers participating in data storage at once in order to conduct any illegal activities. The blockchain’s unique feature is both public and private access to particular information. The owners of e-keys are able to assign the levels of access to different segments of created distributed database by themselves.
Notice that originally, the term explained a procedure of safe transaction in bitcoin – the most renowned cryptocurrency to date. The blockchain gradually covered other fields of critical importance, such as healthcare. By presenting information below, we will try to help you figure out in what way can blockchain be applied in that sphere.
Top 4 most popular blockchain technology applications for healthcare
Example #1: decrease of medication forgery risks.
Medications are faked as often as any other type of production. However, as opposed to other products, forged remedy can not only show no effect whatsoever, but also significantly harm the patient’s health. The blockchain technology can help reduce such risks. Each transaction written into certain block is recorded for good and cannot be changed in any way. In such manner, pharmacists are able to retrace each stage of product’s delivery – from manufacturer’s storage to end buyer. Blockchains with both public and private access can be used in that case.
The private type of access is more preferable as it simply does not let in any cheats forging the medication. Why is blockchain more beneficial for solution of that problem as opposed to other means of data storage? During the production of each medication lot a hash is created. The hash includes all the data important to end-consumer. However, infiltration of that data on certain transaction stage is theoretically possible. Most medical databases have centralized storage which makes them extremely vulnerable and susceptible to implantation of spoiled or falsified production.
The blockchain technology in turn, makes it practically impossible to change information stored in its sections. It can, additionally, help the pharmacists identify on which stage the violation was made in the case of detection of a product of low-quality (e.g. on the stage of medication’s manufacture or during its transportation which must be conducted according to proper environmental conditions).
Example #2: increase in performance of clinical testing.
Even the people new to a field of healthcare, most probably, know what clinical testing is. It is conducted in order to identify the effectiveness of certain medication as well as its side effects. The tests usually can take up to a few years and require enormous investments. Considering the amount of money involved in the process it is no wonder that some dishonest manufacturers can forge data in order to decrease the required period of time and a dedicated budget. In some cases, such affairs can result in incorrect medical notes as to patient’s condition after application of certain remedy.
Thus, potential buyers do not suspect to what catastrophic side effects can lead the application of that remedy. They can cause deterioration in patients’ condition and even immediate hospitalization and fatal outcome. The blockchain technology can reinforce the genuineness of any document that confirms the result of tested medication’s application. In order to fill the chain with new data, a user must await the confirmation of data put down in previous sections (i.e. computer networks that store previously written down data concerning certain medication). As a result, the consumers’ level of trust towards the blockchain technology companies increases and they get an ultimate advantage over competitors.
Example #3: secure storage and transfer of data concerning patients.
Storage of patients-related data is one of the most important aspects of healthcare which requires thorough protection. Medics put privacy to significant risks when transferring medical cards information via social networks despite the use of advanced encryption protocols. Obviously, stealing of such data can cause its illegal publication without the patient’s permission and subsequent blackmailing as well as its edition based on certain evil intents. Additionally, the absence of systematized services of data storage with multi-level access in some way hinders the development of certain diseases’ diagnostics. In turn, blockchain technology can become a kind of a breakthrough in the sphere. With its help, a patient receives full access to their data and manages its changeability and view mode.
Example #4: medication transportation processes management.
Did you know that pharmaceutical companies all over the world lose around $200 billion because of counterfeit products annually? The blockchain technology can be used to eliminate such statistics. It can help create virtual shipment log which contains information as to every stage of medication’s delivery. As it has already been mentioned above, edition of such log without the confirmations of other sections is merely impossible. That is why use of blockchain can help prevent illegal distribution of medicinal goods.
In fact, the blockchain technology explained and described the principle of rapid development of illegal web activities. Due to such fact, the technology can be applied in order to provide safe transfer and storage of data in the field of healthcare. Because of that, many medicine-related companies are expected to gradually start employing the blockchain capabilities to ensure data safety in the near future.
Data security in the modern healthcare sector needs improvements.
HIPAA-covered entities have reported that in March 2019, the amount of healthcare data breaches increased by 14% compared to the average rate of the last sixty months.
As a result, the volume of exposed patient medical records has continued to grow. In March 2019, the medical information of 912,992 patients has been either stolen or exposed.
By analyzing the products of more than 130 companies that are participating in Future Healthcare 2019, three trends were identified, with virtual healthcare being the first.
Other hot topics disrupting healthcare in 2019 are secure healthcare management platforms and medical gadgets.
What will Future Health care tell us regarding these topics?
We are living in an exciting time for both IT and health care. With the improvements in genetic research and precision medicine, we are witnessing ingenious approaches to disease prevention and treatment. Advancements in healthcare software development have not lagged behind, producing large databases for health information as well as tools to keep track of this health data and most importantly, they helped keep people engaged in the own health care. All of these health care and IT advancements put together can serve as a catalyst for transformative change in health IT.