May 3, 2018
The healthcare industry is under extreme pressure in terms of regulating costs and providing high quality services to patients. As the industry evolves alongside emergent market-disruptive technologies, it becomes increasingly difficult for businesses and organizations to keep costs down while remaining competitive on the market. However, the future seems to be brighter with the landing of a disruptive technology called blockchain, which is considered as a game-changer to the whole healthcare sector.
At its core, blockchain is a digital method of economic transaction record-keeping – also known as a ledger. There is no central authority in a blockchain system; instead, transaction records are stored and distributed across all network participants. Blockchain is designed to be inherently immutable – once recorded, data on the blockchain cannot be changed retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and a collusion of the network majority. In other words, for past records to be altered, the vast majority of users in the network would need to agree on the change and also be willing to recalculate all subsequent blocks. By allowing digital information to be distributed but not altered without consensus, blockchain technology creates the potential for a new system of trust to be leveraged as the backbone of the internet.
With such wide-ranging possibilities and applications, it comes as no surprise that blockchain is poised to be one of the key pillars to revolutionize businesses all over the world. In particular, healthcare companies and all parts of the healthcare industry are grappling with the opportunities presented by this rapidly emerging technology. Let’s delve into a number of typical benefits that blockchain has contributed to the healthcare sector.
Considered as a wonderful tool to propel innovation in preventative care and community-based healthcare models, blockchain is used to simplify the way practitioners, insurers, and even entire countries share health information. Such blockchain-based systems can reduce the complexities of reporting and governance so that real-time data is always available and less continual audits and reviews need to be performed to ensure data integrity.
In addition, blockchain provides frictionless connectivity as it is supported by smart contracts and authorization to access all electronic health data. Its transaction layer can enable instantaneous access to a diverse set of standardized, anonymous and non-patient identifiable information. Transparency and automation can also lead to higher efficiency and lower administration costs. It is a phased approach rather than an instant overhaul of systems, and as a result, it is suited to healthcare sector.
The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is currently facing with an ever-increasing counterfeit drugs market, where blockchain, once again, being touted as one solution to prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain. The disruptive technology creates a visible supply chain where all entities involved such as manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, distributors and customers are brought together under one platform. All transactions and information details such as location, quality, price, stock levels and more will then be added to the blockchain in a visible, secure and easy-to-access way.
Thanks to the adoption of blockchain technology, medicinal and other health-related products can be thoroughly verified, and any counterfeit drug found in the supply chain will be immediately notified. By doing so, the pharmaceutical supply chain is made transparent, secure, decentralized and verifiable, with customers being able to keep a track on the products throughout the entire supply chain.
Simply put, with the ledgers stored in the blockchain, the process of tracking products during production and delivery becomes much more economical and less complicated.
The healthcare industry is on the verge of disruption in its digital infrastructure. The current system does not fully support the security or interoperability that is inherently necessary to all parties involved. To utilize collected medical data to its maximum potential, data portability and interoperability of records between systems is a must.
With the advent of wearables and numerous new IoT devices that are interconnected with their data flows harnessed, better security is needed and readily accessible to healthcare professionals. All these challenges could be minimized with the help of blockchain and its interoperability, integrity and security, plus portable user-owned data.
#4:Tracking Payments and Billing Models
Using blockchain to track medical tests, results, billing and payments by patients as well as systems like Medicare can reduce fraud and even administration costs by eliminating the need for intermediaries and middlemen meant to track the flow of information through systems. Under current means without immutable records like blockchain in place, entire companies and internal job functions exist to audit and report on the accuracy of logged information.
It is estimated that 3% of U.S. annual healthcare spending, about $96 billion, is expected to be fraudulent. As we shift to outcome-based payment models, this could impact provider fraud. Immutable ledgers will thereby make it easier to judge new models and adopt those that provide positive outcomes.
On the patient side, blockchain can make payments and insurance agreements clearer and reduce intermediaries, which could in turn cut off the healthcare costs paid by individuals.
By its very nature, blockchain has full potential to transform the way in which the healthcare industry operates. The technology behind Bitcoin opens up enormous opportunities to create immutable and secure health data, reduce complexity, as well as enhance transparency and interoperability of information. Healthcare organizations and entities across the world are increasingly leveraging the benefits of blockchain to further create competitive advantage and revolutionize the way healthcare services are provided.
Infinity Blockchain Labs (IBL) is a visionary R&D company engaged in intermediary and RegTech services employing blockchain technology. We focus on forming alliances with established businesses and regulatory institutions across various industries, as well as providing collaborative incubation for early stage blockchain projects.
IBL aspires to empower Vietnam to become a global leader in blockchamàin development and therefore are committed to sharing information to nurture a passionate, educated blockchain community. One of the ways we maintain our role as ecosystem pioneer is by helping create educated blockchain enthusiasts. We are committed to sharing information and resources to help Vietnam become a blockchain hub through conferences, courses, contests, alliances, workshops, speaking engagements and incubations. Information regarding topics like hard forks helps people become more familiar with key blockchain concepts and thus able to adopt the technology.
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