11 Sectors That Could Be Improved with Blockchain
Blockchain can reduce the liability and accuracy concerns related to the exchange of medical data while providing cryptographic security to protect patient identity “out of the box.” Eventually, every patient will have its own “data wallet” to store and manage his/her medical records, and provide third parties with access to that data when needed.
Here are 11 sectors in healthcare that could be improved with blockchain (and we go into more detail in the full report):
1. Supply Chain Management
In the healthcare space, supply chain management (SCM) solutions are employed by manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other healthcare supplies and equipment. Compared to regular, centralized solutions, the one based on blockchain improves traceability, contract enforcement & management, damage & mishandling management, oversight on counterfeiting, auditing, and at the end — consumer trust, with end-users being able to learn the ins and outs of an item they are looking to buy.
2. Health Records Management
Blockchain’s ability to use time stamping to authenticate changes to a dataset, even if more than one user has permission to edit a document, is said to be ideal for managing Electronic Health Records (EHR) data. In fact, current EHR systems were not designed to manage multi-institutional, lifetime medical records. In contrast, a blockchain-based system puts the patient in the driver’s seat, letting him/her authorize third parties such as doctors and nurses to access and modify their health records. Also, it is the patient who is able to let health systems share these records with other organizations.
3. Population Health
Generally speaking, on the other end of most EHR solutions is the population health “module.” And with a blockchain-based EHR, organizations across the healthcare spectrum can potentially get access to higher quality data, which should then aid their population health efforts while making sure patients get more personalized treatments.
4. Patient Matching
A blockchain-based system can meet the needs of master patient ID as long as there is consensus on what the requirements should be. And that’s arguably the harder part — for all the parties to agree on what constitutes a global or universal patient ID, and later implement it in their respective solutions. Then, once an agreement on a starting point for patient ID is reached, blockchain can meet those needs and be flexible enough to keep up with the pace of change.
5. Patient Engagement
When the patient data is stored in a blockchain, it can be easily and safely moved between existing physician and patient data silos, all while offering improved data management and security. In addition, because of the technology’s underlying structure, a blockchain-based solution could offer digital incentives to encourage patients/users to complete certain fitness activities and take charge of their own healthcare, with their efforts earning them tokens.
6. Care Coordination
Blockchain as a decentralized ledger can play an important role to store not only patient data but also all encounters a patient has with healthcare providers. Such, unifying solution could go beyond “basic” health records to include longitudinal data to the mix, linking and connecting all care provider encounters and communication through a single platform.
Compared to popular services like 23andMe and Ancestry, a blockchain-based system could include end users in the equation, allowing them to control their own genomic data and profit from sharing it. In this scenario, users would get discounted rates for whole-genome sequencing if they agree to share their data to third parties. This in turn could lead to an increase in the amount of genomic information available for analysis from where machine learning algorithms would kick in to find correlations between genetic variants and diseases from these larger data sets.
8. Insurance Claims Processing
The current system entails all brokers and insurers involved in an insurance contract independently running all of the checks, thus creating significant duplication and delay in the placement process which impacts the client. With blockchain, all the relevant data is stored in one place and available to those who require access, removing the need to check the same data multiple times. Moreover, the system could be developed to use smart contracts to “tune into other blockchains” to further streamline procedures, and shorten the application process from an average of 45 days to near real-time.
9. Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are said to be among the best use cases for blockchain. For start, blockchain acts as an ultimate data notary, storing and securing data as it happens. It provides a safe environment that is virtually impossible to hack, infringe or steal — while making auditing that much easier. In addition, a blockchain-based system can streamline patient recruitment, consents and use smart contracts to automate many of today’s manual tasks. For instance, a simple mechanism could be deployed to automatically move patients from one group or one phase to the other once certain conditions have been met.
10. Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
A few experts have suggested that blockchain could be a useful tool in combating the opioid epidemic. For start, the technology’s ability to improve supply chain management makes it ideal for keeping a close eye on opioids (and any other drug for that matter), tracking them from production down to local pharmacies. Also, a blockchain-based system could also aid in the population health efforts of hospitals, health systems and governments; helping them better control the outbreaks.
Storing and securing data in a blockchain across multiple nodes could prevent ransomware attacks. If a hacker manages to get hold of one computer in the network, there are always others that contain the same data. And even with all the data from the blockchain at hand, a hacker could do little without private keys. That’s the whole point, to encrypt the data so it falls into the wrong hands — it can’t be misused, all while having reserve copies on other nodes in the network.