Disrupting the healthcare industry using blockchain – Brillio
Shashank Kumar May 10, 2022

Disrupting the Healthcare Industry Using Blockchain

The global healthcare sector continues to face the challenges raised by COVID-19, which is impacting all aspects of the healthcare value chain.

Despite the pandemic’s impact on the industry, we see an opportunity to accelerate innovation and leverage modern technology options to reinvent it. As we look toward the future of healthcare, we see Blockchain playing a pivotal role in navigating through the current disruptions and preparing for the new ones.

Blockchain as a technology is getting massive attention in healthcare, and it is among the top 5 priorities of Healthcare executives. The global healthcare market spent on the blockchain is expected to hit $5.61 billion by 2025, according to a report by BIS Research, and to generate savings of $100-$150 billion per year.

Challenges in the Healthcare industry: A need for Blockchain

The healthcare industry is struggling with inefficiencies, errors, bureaucracy, and high administrative costs. Blockchain implementations could help solve some of the industry’s most pressing issues, such as compliance, interoperability, and data security, as well as enable new patient-centric business models.

COVID-19 has led to the growth of digital health initiatives- like telehealth doctor visits, a major contributor to the severe increase in breached patient records. One data breach at PIH Health — the operator of multiple medical facilities across southern California — may have impacted nearly 200,000 patients in 2019. According to a report – pharmaceutical companies are losing approximately $200 billion to counterfeit drugs each year.

Some of the issues in healthcare are:

  • Counterfeit drugs: The healthcare industry struggles with finding tools to track each drug from the manufacturing stage to the patients. This results in a lot of counterfeit drugs entering the systems without detection. On top of the significant risks for patients, who can get severely ill by consuming such drugs, this also results in tremendous monetary losses for the healthcare companies.
  • Poor Data Management: Most of the data in the industry gets lost or misplaced due to an inefficient and disorganized data management system. This may result in inaccurate data passed on to the physicians, posing a real danger to patients.
  • Increasing Healthcare Costs: Some of the oldest problems in the industry are the increasing healthcare costs and rising inefficiencies. Low-income patients do not have access to good healthcare facilities due to the extravagant cost of medication and treatment.
  • Cybersecurity Issues: To safeguard patients’ and doctors’ confidentiality, there is a need for more stringent and robust security protocols. Often, data gets passed on to a third party who misuses it without even noticing.
  • Limited Data Storage: The data storage systems used in the industry are limited in size and numbers, reducing the scalability as there is a huge amount of data generated daily, and the systems have gone obsolete. There are a lot of loopholes in the data storage systems that easily get targeted by cybercriminals.

Benefits and application of Blockchain in Healthcare

Blockchain Technology in Healthcare will modify how doctors, physicians, and other health professionals access patients’ or clients’ data, how clinical research will be conducted, and influence other areas of the industry. If implemented well, blockchain technology can be an excellent solution for enhancing data provenance, integrity, functionality, and the security of a pharma supply chain. Some of the key Blockchain benefits and applications in the industry are:

  • Accurate Patient Data and Medical Record Management: Blockchain can help achieve data accuracy at every stage. Blockchain-stored data is error-free and decentralized, making it faster and more secure. Blockchain stores information in numerous locations, making it difficult to tamper.
  • Better Traceability: Blockchain can offer real-time tracing of drugs or any other actions within the ecosystem. The decentralized blockchain technology helps with transparent and error-free shipping of drugs and tracks it till it reaches the customer. The system helps in providing timestamped information on the manufacturer, supplier data, distributor data, travel locations, etc.
  • Patient Privacy: Blockchain protects the privacy and enables patients to become owners and custodians of their healthcare data, ultimately giving them real control over their health records. Blockchain adds more layers of security by storing data in decentralized locations that are tamper-evident and tamper-resistant digital ledgers implemented in a distributed fashion.
  • Higher Security: Blockchain provides the best security protocols by eliminating cyber-attack threats. This technology does not have a central failure point, hence in case of natural disasters, the healthcare community can access the documents irrespective of their location. A blockchain ledger provides more accountability by creating an audit trail of who accessed a health record.
  • Interoperability: Blockchain technology can be used to connect with distinct markets such as health insurance providers, hospitals, or even distributors. This provides a more holistic experience wherein a patient can ask for insurance during a hospital visit/ stay and verification of legal documents can be done in a shorter time.
  • Better insurance Claims and Billing: By using blockchain, the health insurance process will be faster as the complete patient data gets transferred to the insurance company. Companies can streamline their health insurance policies by keeping track of any suspicious behaviors along with getting rid of all paperwork. The blockchain platform will help the patients to keep track of their bills and hence there is no chance of medical bill fraud or over-billing a patient.
  • Reduced Cost of Handling: Compared to traditional legacy systems, the cost of handling blockchain is quite low. The system can handle high traffic surges within a short amount of time as the healthcare sector has invested heavily in maintenance in the past.

Shaping the Future of Blockchain

Though the adoption of blockchain technology in healthcare has been slow compared to other industries, as the ecosystem is built, there will be more opportunities to deploy blockchain applications. Blockchain is changing the overall hierarchy of healthcare by providing patients with authority and trusted deliverables. It has brought the patient to the center of the healthcare ecosystem by providing them power over their data.

The Blockchain potential in healthcare depends a lot on the adoption of associated advanced technologies in the ecosystem. The focus of the healthcare organizations should be to leverage Blockchain Technology:

  • Across system tracking, healthcare insurance, medicines tracing, and clinical trials.
  • The entire life cycle, using device tracking.
  • To improve patient history management, especially tracking and the insurance mediation process, thereby accelerating clinical actions with optimized data maintenance.

Overall, Blockchain technology would enhance and revolutionize how patients and physicians treat and use clinical records and improve healthcare services. The effects of blockchain in healthcare are only on the surface so far and there is still a long way to go.

About the Author

 

Shashank Kumar

Senior Consultant, Cloud Engineering Studio, Brillio
Seasoned Presales and Business Development Consultant with 8.5 years of industry experience in delivering value to clients across the globe. Expertise in handling strategic and large deals with a focus on solving complex business problems. Have experience in working with clients across multiple industries developing specific solutions, POVs, GTMs on digital technologies.

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