DENISA KELE// How does blockchain Impact Medicine?
Blockchain technology is a part of Industry 4.0’s new Internet of Things applications: decentralized systems, distributed ledgers, and immutable and cryptographically secure technology. This technology entails a series of transaction lists with identical copies shared and retained by different groups or parties. One field where blockchain technology has tremendous potential is health care, due to the more patient-centric approach to the health care system as well as blockchain’s ability to connect disparate systems and increase the accuracy of electronic health records
Since traditional electronic health record and personal health record-based health information exchange systems have failed to cope with privacy and security-related issues, stakeholders are hesitant about collaborating and co-operating for the exchange of health information. As a result, the cost of healthcare has increased, which is a great burden on both patients and healthcare providers. To solve these trust-related problems, researchers and policymakers nowadays are turning towards blockchain technology. As per IBM, many leading healthcare organizations predict blockchain will bring a significant change to the healthcare system by upgrading healthcare management systems and by establishing a decentralized architecture for the interchange of electronic healthcare information.
Blockchain healthcare use cases in digital health.
Patient electronic health records.
Healthcare systems in every country and region are struggling with the problem of data siloes, meaning that patients and their healthcare providers have an incomplete view of medical histories. In 2016, Johns Hopkins University published research showing that the third leading cause of death in the US was medical errors resulting from poorly coordinated care, such as planned actions not completed as intended or errors of omission in patient records.
One potential solution to this problem is creating a blockchain-based system for medical records that can be linked into existing electronic medical record software and act as an overarching, single view of a patient’s record. It is crucial to emphasize that actual patient data does not go on the blockchain, but that each new record appended to the blockchain, whether a physician’s note, a prescription or a lab result, is translated into a unique hash function – a small string of letters and numbers. Every hash function is unique, and can only be decoded if the person who owns the data – in this case, the patient – gives their consent.
Medical staff credential verification
Similar to tracking the provenance of a medical good, blockchain technology can be used to track the experience of medical professionals, where trusted medical institutions and healthcare organisations can log the credentials of their staff, in turn helping to streamline the hiring process for healthcare organisations. US based ProCredEx has developed such a medical credential verification system using the R3 Corda blockchain protocol.
A major challenge across the healthcare sector, as in many others, is ensuring the provenance of medical goods to confirm their authenticity. Using a blockchain-based system to track items from the manufacturing point and at each stage through the supply chain enables customers to have full visibility and transparency of the goods they are buying.
This is a top priority for the industry, especially in developing markets where counterfeit prescription medicines cause tens of thousands of deaths annually. It is increasingly important for medical devices, too, which are proliferating quickly with the adoption of more remote health monitoring, and therefore also attracting the interest of bad actors.
Breakthroughs in Genomics
The potential of genomics to improve the future of human health, once a dream, is now a scientific and financial reality. Genome sequencing could cost between $100 million and $1 billion in 2001, but expenses fell to below $1,000 in 2021.
Blockchain is a perfect fit for this growing industry as it can safely house billions of genetic data points. It’s even become a marketplace where people can sell their encrypted genetic information to create a wider database, giving scientists access to valuable data faster than ever before.
These three companies use blockchain to help us better understand the most basic building blocks of human life.
The healthcare industry’s integration of blockchain technology holds immense potential to revolutionize various aspects of healthcare, from supply chain management to patient data security. The industry faces challenges in regulatory compliance and data privacy but can benefit from hybrid solutions combining blockchain with traditional systems. Entrepreneurs have significant opportunities to develop blockchain-based EHR systems and solutions for pharmaceutical supply chain management. By embracing blockchain’s transparency, security, and automation, the healthcare sector can drive efficiency, reduce costs, and improve patient care, ultimately transforming the healthcare landscape.
In brief, we anticipate that Integrating blockchain into the healthcare industry will transform the supply chain competition. Traditional challenges like inefficient inventory management, counterfeit drugs, and lack of transparency will be addressed. Blockchain’s distributed ledger will ensure transparency and authenticity, reducing the risk of counterfeit drugs and building trust. Smart contracts will automate and streamline processes, facilitating efficient agreements between supply chain participants. This streamlined supply chain will lead to better patient care and quicker emergency responses.