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Blockchain in Healthcare: Practical Use Cases & Benefits You Should Know

Healthcare   | 9 min read • 19 August 2019
Blockchain in Healthcare: Practical Use Cases & Benefits You Should Know

You have for sure have heard the term “blockchain” before, but do you know about blockchain applications in healthcare? It wouldn’t be surprising if you had heard it too, because blockchain technologies are changing steadily the healthcare industry moving it on a more advanced level.  

But what are the benefits of using it as for healthcare provider or patient? Let’s dig deeper into what advancements these technologies can bring for the medical industry.


Blockchain for Healthcare: Some Stats to Consider

Before we get into what exactly blockchain is and why you should be using it let’s explain that fact by the real numbers as:

  • 40% of health execs see blockchain as top five on their list of priorities. 

  • $5.61 billion - the amount that the global  healthcare market is going to spend on blockchain technology by 2025 under BIS Research  

  • $100-150 billion per year is the amount of money that the adoption of blockchain technology could save for the healthcare industry as much as in IT costs, data breach-related costs, support function and personnel costs, and operations costs. That’s not even taking into account the reduction in fraud and counterfeit productions. 

All of those numbers should get your attention if you plan on being a significant player in medicine. Hence, let’s move ahead to know what blockchain development for healthcare means.


Blockchain Development: What You Need to Know

Broken down to its most basic components, blockchain refers to a shared, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions. It is built from linked transaction blocks and stored in what could be called a digital ledger.  It is built on established cryptographic techniques that allow each of the participants in the network to use it. At the same time, anyone who is not authorized will be locked out.

The benefit of Blockchain: it allows for greater security of confidential data than ever before, provided it is used correctly. Due to such benefit, businesses of different industries as financial, retail, real estate have started to use the blockchain app development trend and get many pros of that. But come back to how blockchain is used in healthcare especially in the coming years.


Top 7 Blockchain Use Cases in Medicine

The most critical way that blockchain can help the medicine is that it beat the greatest risks for healthcare industry like security & transparency while saving a lot of costs. By using it, personal security is better protected for users of a given network and data breaches are much less likely to happen. Besides, blockchain technologies can make many operations faster and automate a lot of them,  that saves costs for healthcare providers and patients both. 

Let’s look at the insights on how healthcare providers are planning to use these technologies for the improvement of their medical services.


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(Source: Deloitte)

Hence, knowing these stats, it’s a time to dig deeper into the blockchain use case for healthcare and what real values it brings for being worth implemented.


1. Patient Data Management ➜ Secured & Faster Data Analysis & Transfer

The most obvious example is with patient data management. Someone who visits a hospital, for instance, can feel much more comfortable handing over things like a social security number and credit card information if they know that blockchain encryption is being run on the network that they are using. Hackers will find it much more challenging to crack a blockchain encryption system.

You’re also looking at reliable storage of personal healthcare data for patients, and better accessibility. When someone wants access to their test results, for instance, they can set up their account information and find out the results without any fear of someone spying on the most intimate details of their life. At the same time, their doctors can get to that information easily and without any fear of prying eyes.

The integrity of a patient’s medical records is assured through the use of tools such as a patient health information portal, also called a PHI . Electronic health records can easily be transferred to a new doctor as well as be collected through IoT devices which can be made compatible with a specific blockchain. Medical insurance claims can easily be processed, as well.

Using API with blockchain technology, it’s the most secure way to protect especially on a patient’s identity.  

With an API in place, the patient can decide who should have access to their medical records other than their doctor.  They can even dictate whether they want to allow full or partial access.


chart


(Source: HealthIT.gov)

While doctors based on transparent data can more easily diagnose what is happening with a patient and provide more definitive and accurate medical treatment. Due to this more than 52% of healthcare providers see transparency as being one of the top reasons for using blockchain in their industry. 


2. High-Security Standards in Data Encryption ➜ Reduced Numbers of Data Breaches

The application of blockchain in healthcare certainly has many uses, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better reason for it than for the prevention of data breaches. That is what healthcare network users fear more than almost anything else. 

It’s not just that they don’t want their payment methods or social security numbers getting out. It’s also that they might not want their medication information being released if something is happening with them that they would prefer to keep private.

Looking at the benefits of blockchain in healthcare, we quickly see that a robust security standard is what is needed in keeping this sensitive data from being flung far and wide across the internet. Blockchain provides methods secured data transfer such as recording and encrypting information and anchoring data to the public blockchain.  


chart


(Source: HealthIT.gov)

Data encryption method in blockchain, that is almost hacker-proof and is very beneficial to be used now when telemedicine applications are dynamically developing but HIPAA requires the usage of safe data transfer and communication methods in the healthcare industry. Doctors and patients alike are thrilled by this new tech.


3. Control over Healthcare Transactions ➜ Secured Payment Management & Reduced Costs

You would also be correct in assuming that people feel better about their payment information when blockchain technology has been put in place.  You can apply different encryption methods like transparent database encryption that we’ve integrated into the development of Extobit project to ensure data safety.

In medicine hospitals and clinics process, hundreds if not thousands of patient claims and remittances every day. They also send out requests for outstanding patient payments. Fraudsters can get into all kinds of mischief if they get access to that data. Identity theft is a real concern with the skill level that some of these hackers cultivate.

With blockchain technology in place, claim denials can be minimized. Underpayments can be quickly reported, and human errors and time delays are reduced as well. 

Blockchain can streamline many of these processes and lessen all kinds of payment concerns. Business operations and daily revenue cycles for medical facilities can be optimized.


chart


4. Management of the Drug Supply Chain ➜ Preventing Counterfeit Drugs

Starting with some statistics the Health Research Funding Organization has stated that 10 to 30% of the drugs sold in developing countries are counterfeit. That’s a disturbing trend, especially if those who need those drugs aren’t getting the treatment to cure their potentially life-threatening ailments. This counterfeit drug market is worth up to $200 billion annually by some estimations.

All blockchain transactions are immutable and timestamped, though. It follows that if you use blockchain, fraudulent drugs, and drug transactions are easy to identify and stop. Blockchain for drug traceability is yet another one of its uses, as inventory can be managed and the life cycles of the drugs can also be monitored.

chart

(Source: IMB.com)


5. Improvement of Clinical Trials and Healthcare Research ➜ More Effective Medicine & Reducing of Fraud 

When it comes to clinical trials to study the effectiveness of new medications, researchers obtain and record vast amounts of data. That might include test results, quality reports, and vital statistics. Blockchain allows researchers to easily access all of that while they are secure and transparent in the knowledge that no one who is unauthorized is looking at it.

Blockchain also improves structured protocols and makes sure that there is informed consent by the trial participants in this area. Smart contracts and timestamps are in place that allows this to happen.

Researchers are kept honest because they must stick to the trial design, and there is no danger of changing the test parameters mid-trial. Besides, blockchain can also connect seemingly disparate study data. Connections that might have been missed will be quickly pinpointed by blockchain tech. All this results in more trustworthy medical research results.

6. Medical Paperwork Management ➜ Saved & Reduced Costs on Medical Services

The management of medical paperwork is another area in which blockchain tech comes in handy. Hospitals and other healthcare providers can reduce the amount of paperwork that their customers and doctors have to fill out. Any time that a paper-based system can be replaced by a computerized one it is better for storage purposes, reduces costs and time spent on routine tasks and even prevents doctors’ burnout.

In addition to that, insurance transactions become easier to track so that nothing is misplaced. Providers and patients don’t have to go through the hassle of providing additional copies of transactions to insurance providers, which everyone involved appreciates.


7. Integration with Wearable IoT Devices ➜ Better Health Records Monitoring 

One of the most remarkable capabilities of blockchain innovations at this point is how it can be used with wearable internet of things devices. This allows for better health records monitoring by both patients and doctors.

Blockchain can provide an easily-authenticated, secure platform for the integration of data that is contained within wearables such as fitness, health, or activity tracker devices. The doctors the same as the patients can reach this secured regularly updated data that allows tracking the changes or patients’ progress much more easily. Thus,  blockchain healthcare app development should probably be on the top as the usage of wearable devices is constantly increasing.


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(Source: HealthIT.gov)


Challenges of Blockchain in Healthcare Industry

While blockchain in the medical industry is becoming one of the most compelling trends in healthcare app development, there are still some challenges that must be overcome if this emerging tech is to be utilized to its full potential. We’ve talked about some blockchain in healthcare examples, but it is commonly understood that this sort of technology can be developed still further by intrepid designers and inventors. Possible obstacles to this could be technical challenges, but what is more potentially invasive is cultural obstacles, regulation, and legislation policies.

For instance, you might have someone who cannot afford a fitness tracker, and therefore cannot use one for the tracking of their medical data when they visit a hospital or urgent care facility. Maybe there is a regulation in place that restricts the use of blockchain tech in some facilities because of a perceived lack of funding.

Policy change when it comes to new technology can move quickly in some cases, or it might come about more slowly. It’s difficult to predict, but it will be fascinating to see what the next 10-15 years bring in this area. The many uses for blockchain seem self-evident. Anyone associated with the healthcare industry should recognize the potential based on what has already been invented and retrofitted with this sort of tech.


What Does the Future Look Like for Blockchain in the Area of Medical Technology?

Highlighting the potential uses of blockchain in healthcare, it seems obvious that we’ve just scratched the surface and technologies are going to move ahead. To keep your medical business on the top, you definitely need to think about applying these technologies in your existing or new one tech solution. 

Having experience with blockchain, we understand how innovative and beneficial it is. While having expertise in healthcare apps development we understand the industry specialties and how to adapt each to another one. 

So, we can help you with blockchain software development if you feel ready to incorporate it into software or apps that you are developing for your company. 

Let’s empower the healthcare industry together with emerging technology to bring a robust product on the market and a better treatment for the patients.





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