Healthcare companies are inundated with data. Everything from medical histories and lab results to treatment plans and drug tests are now maintained digitally, and access to this information is more important than ever. Organizing this wealth of information so it is easy to share, own, and secure is a huge challenge for healthcare companies, one that saps resources and can impede patient care. One solution? Blockchain technology.
Blockchain, which debuted in the financial industry to manage cryptocurrencies, is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that all relevant stakeholders can access. Blockchains log and store records in a distributed repository, and any updates are time stamped and can be viewed by everyone who is qualified to view the ledger. The transparency, paired with encryption technology, secures the data that is being transferred, which means an easier path to HIPAA compliance, and creates a situation of immutability in which everyone owns the data, yet no one owns the data.
The security and administrative implications of blockchain are invaluable, and healthcare executives are starting to realize that this technology will revolutionize how they do business. Here are two use cases where we predict a high rate of blockchain adoption:
Case #1 – Health records
The most obvious benefit of blockchain is the ease with which it allows information to be shared across platforms. Historically, regulations, data storage, and weak incentives for sharing have stifled a provider’s ability to treat their patients. Blockchain eliminates these problems, so doctors can access data sets that had been impossible to connect before. For example, your primary physician can pull up your ledger and see the treatment plan your endocrinologist is recommending, and make sure he or she is not prescribing a drug that could disrupt a different treatment recommended by your oncologist.
From a doctor’s perspective, they neither waste time hunting down records, nor worry about liability issues. From the patient’s side, they are empowered to visit any healthcare practice they wish, without worrying about transferring their paperwork.
Case #2 – Supply chain
Blockchain will revolutionize the supply chain process for pharmaceutical companies, allowing executives to easily oversee drug production from the initial creation of a vaccine all the way to a patient receiving an injection from a pharmacist. Because healthcare professionals can access the ledger and see when and where changes are made, they are able to closely monitor individual ingredients being used to develop a drug, then they can track exactly where the finished product ends up. This level of transparency means that drugs will no longer be “misplaced” and misused.
Both of these use cases illustrate how blockchain solves problems that have been plaguing the healthcare industry for decades, and early adopters of the technology are seeing immediate pay-off. For example, Robomed, a medical network utilizing blockchain, was created in 2016 to connect healthcare providers to their patients using smart contracts to determine medical treatments and patient satisfaction. The company already has 1.7 million clients, and is still growing.
It is evident that blockchain provides vast opportunity to provide value and increase revenue — to learn more about how you can integrate blockchain into your healthcare organization’s digital strategy, contact us.