5 key blockchain in healthcare use cases
Why is there so much hype around blockchain in healthcare? Because it promises to bring significant savings. The report predicts that by 2025, the adoption of blockchain could lead to savings of up to $100-$150 billion per year in IT, operations, and data breach-related costs.
A recent survey revealed that 40% of healthcare executives see blockchain as one of the five priorities. According to a report by BIS Research, the global healthcare market investment in the technology will reach $5.61 billion by 2025.
Blockchain holds a great promise to the healthcare industry that aims to create intersections between fragmented systems to generate valuable insights and improve the assessment of services. Professionals in this field imagination nationwide blockchain networks for storing electronic medical records that would support the healthcare system in delivering better care to patients.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 5 essential use cases for blockchain in healthcare:
1. Patient data storage and management
Given the character of the blockchain technology, no wonder that one of the most popular healthcare use cases is patient data management. Health agencies usually keep medical records siloed. Learning more about a patient’s medical history is impossible without reaching out to their previous care provider. And that process may take some time, often resulting in mistakes that result from human error.
Blockchain promises to change that. A good example is MedRec, a system that offers a transparent view into a patient’s medical history, developed on the Ethereum blockchain. The idea behind MedRec is that it can be used to store all the patient’s medical information in one place, making it simpler to access by both doctors and patients themselves.
2. Preventing prescription drug abuse
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies the opioid overdose epidemic as a public health crisis. The current system used for prescribing and filling medications is of no help in managing this and other drug abuse problems.
Today, prescriptions are hand-written on prescription paper, which contains poor security features. That way, it’s easy to forge, copy, or alter prescriptions. By enabling institutions to build a decentralized and secure system for storing prescriptions, blockchain is expected to offer an excellent solution to this pressing problem.
The issue of prescriptions fits into the broader context of the medical supply chain security challenges. Pharma companies experience problems such as theft or spread of counterfeit drugs. By implementing blockchain solutions, these companies will be able to closely track drugs to their point of origin to eliminate the risk of falsified medication.
Blockchain solutions promise to improve data provenance, integrity, and security of a pharma supply chain, protecting every aspect of distribution. For example, the pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline collaborated with the blockchain company Viant to implement a track-and-track technology powered by blockchain to tighten up its supply chain.
3. A higher level of security
Blockchain solutions for patient data storage will offer an unprecedented level of security. Patients will be able to share their data with any institution without risking data tampering or corruption. A medical record generated and added to the blockchain will be entirely secure. Blockchain will also offer patients more control over how their medical data is used and shared by institutions.
That’s especially important considering the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that collect various key data from patients. For example, devices such as the Omron HeartGuide and Apple Watch gather data about the user’s sleep patterns, blood pressure to physical activity, heart rate, and more.
The security, transmission, and privacy of this data needs to be protected at all costs. We don’t want to end up in a world where insurers have free access to such information – and when they see that you’re not exercising, they instantly increase your health coverage.
Blockchain can ensure a secure recording, transmission, and sharing of this data between devices and health service providers using the proof-of-data integrity approach. That way, healthcare providers and patients can verify the data timestamp without relying on third parties that may pose a risk to data security and consumer privacy.
4. Smart contracts
Contracts are an essential part of healthcare. Various care providers, as well as patients and hospitals, draw contracts. With digital transformation, smart contracts are gaining steam – and blockchain plays a crucial role in this area.
Smart contracts will come in handy for processing or receiving claims or sending payments.
Smart blockchain companies are expected to provide technologies for drawing contracts between health organizations and insurance providers to enable process automation across the entire transaction lifecycle.
Hospitals use various systems to automate transaction processing nowadays. These systems are full of gaps and often require manual intervention, driving operational costs. With smart blockchain-based contracts, hospitals will take advantage of a more efficient and cost-effective solution.
For example, when a patient visits a doctor, the blockchain ledger will be updated automatically as a self-executing contract rule – which will be visible to relevant parties such as the insurer.
5. Clinical trial data management
Blockchain is a technology set to revolutionize the process of drug discovery, development, and distribution process. Pharma companies working on new drugs often struggle to get patient data today. Managing and accessing drug trial data is a fundamental problem area in healthcare, considering data privacy issues.
Pharma companies often keep drug trial data in centralized databases that have to be compliant with HITRUST, ISO, HIPAA, confidentiality, and other ethical & regulatory requirements. They make it challenging for researchers to share the data with the right people. Blockchain will help in creating auditable, unalterable, distributed databases for storing and accessing drug trial data.
For example, the MIT Enigma system is a fully-fledged blockchain initiative that uses two core cryptographic blocks which work simultaneously on top of a peer-to-peer network of nodes. The platform allows maintaining a high level of privacy and security when dealing with clinical studies data.
Blockchain can also come in handy for keeping track of clinical trials bookkeeping. Clinical trials financials are very complex as they involve different stakeholders, and pharma companies are now working with blockchain firms to improve their financial reporting activities and bookkeeping. For example, Boehringer Ingelheim teamed up with IBM to design and implement a blockchain-powered bookkeeping system for a clinical trial pilot project.
Blockchain is a technology that offers numerous opportunities for the healthcare of the future. It creates unprecedented opportunities for reducing process complexity, boosting trustful collaboration, and creating secure databases for storing patient data. But for blockchain to reach its full potential, it’s essential that governments and public institutions map the blockchain ecosystem, and establish a blockchain framework for coordinating early-adopters.
If you’re wondering whether your organization could benefit from blockchain, get in touch with our consultants. Our teams of engineers have prepared numerous blockchain-based solutions for clients in the healthcare sector.