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Reimagining Healthcare System Through Blockchain

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Blockchain integrated healthcare system help reduce the overall cost involved and provides solutions for flooding of counterfeit medicines in the market.

Healthcare system,over the past decade,has evolved remarkably with the introduction of advanced technologies such as cloud storage for information, easy and quick access to patient healthcare data and interoperability of information with various segments and healthcare services.Yet, the industry is still struggling with issues such as data security and integrity where patients are not privy to access information and do not have control to stop any misuse or tampering of their patient data.

Blockchain, as a decentralized ledger system in which data is secure and transparent,can help transform healthcare industry by focusing on patients more and enhancing the privacy and security of their health data. Touted to be a game changer in the method of conducting transactions, blockchain can help unveil the layer of secrecy and red tape to make healthcare data accessible quickly while maintaining the highest level of integrity. Blockchain integrated healthcare system help reduce the overall cost involved and solve problems faced during any insurance claim by eliminating multiple levels of verification of all patient data. It also provides solutions for flooding of counterfeit medicines in the market.

The Decentralized Healthcare Register

Currently, patient information is stored within individual hospital servers, that can only be accessible by the healthcare practitioners within the healthcare institute.However, if the patient wants to get a second opinion, they have to request for the entire historical data file that includes treatment observations and evaluation although there are chances of factual errors owing to manual entry of data. Thus, it results in making the process cumbersome, time-consuming and may often lead to wrong diagnosis of the disease.

With Blockchain, the patient can be put in the driver’s seat to own his/her health information file. The decentralized system makes same data available with everyone and involves in creating or editing the patient file by doctors, nurses, pharmacy, imaging and lab service providers. Different blocks of the same data can be made in order to make partial information available on a need-to-know basis. Complete access to these blocks of information lies with the patient only who can authorize changes or inclusion to it, and share it with people they trust.

Data Provenance and Data Integrity

It is imperative for any healthcare system to keep track of multiple patient information while additional and new patient data related to health insurance, health condition, tests and investigation getting added every day.

In a typical healthcare unit set up, there is no organized system in place to trace every patient information right from the beginning and thus, the trail becomes cold. With Blockchain’s timestamped data blocks, it is possible to store information in the exact chronological order through cryptography, making it immutable. These timestamped data can be traced back to the exact point in time to check for data veracity and provides quick access to individual patient health history. Blockchain, thus, provides clear data provenance.

Any information on a blockchain network is stored in not just one location or a common computer server. Only one true copy of the data is made available with all key stakeholders in the network thereby, increasing data security.

Clinical trials that omit unfavorable data to tip the scale towards their drug for a clean chit from regulatory bodies will now have to show ‘all’ data pertaining to the trials and only those drugs that are truly innovative. The drugs that provide a cure or a solution to a medical problem will henceforth see the light of day in the consumer market with the introduction of blockchain in the healthcare sector.

An End to Counterfeit Medicines

We all are aware that markets get flooded with fake, counterfeit medicines accounting for almost 200% loss for the drug manufacturers. These losses are added to the medicine cost, borne only by the end consumer thus, making medicine costly. With the help of Blockchain, this practice can be brought to an end. There are two networks of blockchain – public and private. Private networks for drug manufacturers will be required to register on the blockchain network to claim their authenticity. They will have to share drug information right from its production through the supply chain until it reaches the retailers, even until it leaves the pharmacy counter. Patients can look up this chain of custody, be satisfied with its origins and then make the purchase decision.

Any drug manufacturer who do not register on the network will be excluded from the list. Even post-registration, drug tampering can be avoided as the whole network, though private, will be accessible by regulatory bodies.

Quick Insurance Claims and Money Disbursement

It is the paper trail of insurance claims that is time-consuming, making medical claims processing system highly inefficient. With blockchain, all information are stored once and verified permanently, thereby eliminating the need for any involvement from medical claim’s third party. Smart and self-executing contracts can easily make the payment disbursement based on previously set guidelines. Even human verification can be done without the hassle of long and tedious verification processes.

Blockchain may have been initiated for transforming the financial sector, but a system that is non-central, highly secure, traceable and transparent is the need of the hour in almost all business verticals. Needless to say, Blockchain revolution has begun, and if you want to be a part of building blockchain networks and applications, you need to be more than conversant with the subject, and need to hone yourself with the necessary skills.

(The author E Venkatesan is CEO of EMURGO Academy)

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