The healthcare industry is troubled by bureaucracy, overwhelmed by document management problems and trapped in legacy systems. However, blockchain can help to solve these problems. A blockchain network can hold secure, verifiable patient records on its distributed ledger. Patients’ records will no longer be stuck within a healthcare provider’s database. In the near future, your records will move with you – regardless of what kind of treatment is needed.
The most immediate benefit for healthcare providers would be blockchain networks’ ability to deal with document storage and sharing. Such a network would allow all data related to a patient to be added and then updated as their situation changes. Relevant documents could be shared as necessary with doctors or consultants. The entire history could be shared with your GP. A blockchain network would support efficient, secure and permissioned sharing of documents between stakeholders - a far cry from paper records in overflowing cabinets. Patients, just as much as their healthcare professionals, will be able to manage their data much more easily than before without any fear of records being manipulated or lost. The distributed ledger means that updates to records requires consensus across the network, which can be achieved without having to provide all your medical records to other people.
Improving the ease of information sharing in the healthcare industry will also help to improve the service that doctors and other professionals can give. Instead of having to chase up documents, referrals or test reports, they can focus on interpreting results and spending more time with their patients. This means more accurate diagnoses and better, more personalised, treatment for everyone.
In such a privacy-sensitive industry, data security is paramount. More and more, providers are turning to digital solutions to connect with their patients which are often not as secure as they should be. As Protenus’ Breach Barometer [linked] highlights, 140 million patient document breaches occurred between 2015 and 2016. A blockchain network’s permissioned, secure technology is built on advanced cryptography to protect the transactions being processed and the historical record of data it stores. Furthermore, the democratisation of patient data is important. People will be able to have control over how their records are shared with their providers
Beyond improving the security and efficiency with which the healthcare industry can work and grow, blockchain could also enable businesses in the industry to streamline their processes. The technology would be able to include features such as smart contracts to consolidate the way that payments can be collected.
Blockchain’s security, scalability and customisability has the potential to fundamentally change the way data is managed in the healthcare industry. The improvements that this change would bring, from efficiency to dependability, would have further impacts on the way providers can offer services. Blockchain is not a cure-all, but it does have the potential to help cure the healthcare industry of many of the symptoms it currently suffers from.