In an era when data privacy has never been more important, blockchain has rapidly expanded into and taken over several industries, such as healthcare and pharmacological sciences. Propositions concerning blockchain-based technology are still in the process of development, but it's time to start familiarizing yourself with the technology.
What is blockchain?
Although the technology is known for enabling cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, blockchain has a broader use beyond an alternative form of currency. And to understand its importance, you need to understand 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 modifications in the chain. Every block added to the chain gets distributed to all the computers in the network, and when one computer tries to alter previous blocks without authorization, others can compare it with their local copies and deem it as fake.
Blockchain was originally developed to eliminate the need for centralized banks to process and validate transactions. The technology allows people to freely transfer money because each computer in the network can examine the chain and confirm the legitimacy of a transaction.
As a result, transactions are much safer and more efficient. They cannot be modified unless every computer in the network is compromised simultaneously. That level of data security and integrity helps reduce 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. One notable incident is from the American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), where 25 million patient data records were compromised due to a hacking incident.
Here’s how blockchain can address the problem of data loss:
- 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 need to get the patient’s authorization first.
- Payments between banks, government entities, insurance providers, and patients can all be coordinated in a fraction of the previous time needed and without costly intermediaries.
- Healthcare equipment usage, depreciation, and life cycles can be automatically tracked in a chain to keep tabs on the status of expensive and fragile fixtures.
What’s more, ransomware has hit healthcare hard over the past years, and service providers are forced to rely on costly solutions to keep up with the exponential growth in digital records. Blockchain technology can resolve both issues of security and rising costs at once.
Adopting new technology can be intimidating, especially for an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare. Blockchain has already been adopted by several organizations, but before you embrace this technology, you need full-time IT experts to assess your systems and manage your security. To learn more about blockchain in healthcare, give us a call.