It is almost impossible to miss Blockchain whenever there is a conversation related to technology innovations in recent times. After the internet, if there is something that has disrupted the industries, then it has to be Blockchain. Despite its recent origin Blockchain has managed to garner the attention of some of the major industries. Apart from a financial transaction, that happens to be the most conventional application of Blockchain, but its multitude of the application has made other sectors plunging in the pool. Healthcare is one such sector which is slowly witnessing the change that Blockchain is bringing in.
What is Blockchain?
It is the distributed ledger technology wherein all the data exchange is stored in the form of blocks. Every block is time-stamped thus making it easy to track the history of data. Provenance, immutability, transparency, and decentralization are some of the key features that make Blockchain one of the most sought-after technology of today.
How will Blockchain prove helpful to the healthcare industry?
It’s a known fact that Blockchain is considered to be a panacea to the different problems that have inflicted most of the sectors. To understand how it can solve the problems of the healthcare sector, we first need to analyze what are the challenges that the healthcare industry is witnessing.
Challenges of the healthcare industry:
- Counterfeited products and drugs
- Centralized data storage
- Drug supply chain
Let’s analyze these problems :
- Counterfeited drugs– This is the key problem that we have. There is a greater probability of drugs to be replaced by duplicate drugs which can be a big threat to the health of the person consuming it.
- Interoperability of patient data– One of the major problems that we face in the field of health care is documentation which has the personal details of the individuals, medical history and other health conditions. In the current times, it becomes difficult to retrieve the data immediately. For example, if the patient is traveling from one place to another and is visiting a new doctor, then in the current scenario, either he/she needs to carry the entire paper with him/her, or they have to send everything over the email. This becomes cumbersome, especially in the times of emergency.
- Centralized data storage– Data security concerns plague most of the industries. In the current system, most of the companies are using the system which is centralized. All the data is stored at a central server. It becomes easier for anyone to hack the data. Any fault in the central server will hamper the data access.
- Drug Supply Chain– Another problem that plagues the healthcare industry is tracking of the products, it can be anything, from drugs to medical equipment or anything related to the healthcare sector.
How will Blockchain be helpful?
You might be wondering, how will Blockchain enhance the efficiency of the healthcare industry. Well, the answer for this lies in the fact that Blockchain, though, used for the financial transaction, can leverage the same platform to other industries. The financial transactions are replaced by the data or information or products which can belong to any industry. The healthcare industry can make use of the following features of Blockchain to create a system which will make the business operations more transparent.
- Decentralization– This is one of the most important features of Blockchain which makes the data storage decentralized. So, there is the lesser probability for hacking of data or someone altering the data. Moreover, the information is distributed in the Blockchain network, which means that one can easily access the information from anywhere.
- Security– All the information is cryptographically secured. Thus making it difficult for anyone to breach into the system and hack the data.
- Traceability- As already mentioned that all the data or information in the DLT is time-stamped which means, it is easy for anyone in the system to track the data. Moreover, the Blockchain system works faster than the conventional tracking system, thus it saves a lot of time.
- Easy access of information– As already mentioned that Blockchain offers a decentralized platform for data storage which is accessible to all the people in the network, popularly known as the nodes. Well, with the help of Blockchain, we can have all the information related to patient fed into the ledger and this information is accessible to all the people in the network.
The application of Blockchain in the healthcare division is not merely on papers; rather, we have companies and startups investing in the same. One of the use cases of Blockchain in healthcare can be in the drug development process. The traditional system takes 8-10 years in drug development, but with the help of Blockchain, we can allow easy sharing of information, test results between projects, patient pools which will eventually lessen the time taken for drug development. So, the answer for the question, whether Blockchain can be helpful in overcoming the challenges of the healthcare system, then the answer for this is yes.