Blockchain technology can be used in the healthcare sector to reduce the challenges facing this industry, including counterfeiting drugs, intermediaries, protecting medical data, reducing fraud, and paperwork.
Drug counterfeiting is a major challenge facing the healthcare sector. For instance, statistics reveal that between 10% and 30% of all drugs sold in developing countries are counterfeit. This illegal business has grown over the years and is currently worth over $200 billion. This prompted research into several solutions that can help eliminate this problem, and blockchain technology may be the ultimate solution.
Blockchain technology is well known for its security capabilities. As such, patient and medical professional records will be less susceptible to hacking. The medical professionals can easily and safely share their patients’ medical histories and update the records.
With the help of blockchain technology, patients can securely access and control access to their medical records. The records are traceable, thus reducing the risk of losing information, missing vaccinations, and falsified medical data.
The healthcare sector is filled with intermediaries, who tend to facilitate interactions between different health institutions. Thanks to blockchain smart contracts, these institutions can interact directly. Additionally, they can be used in telemedicine—a growing field of medicine, in which medical professionals can reach their patients via smartphones and other devices.
While this interaction is handy, it is a major target by hackers. Nonetheless, smart contracts ensure safety and transparency while gathering and storing patient data.
Many health institutions have to deal with daily loads of paperwork, which makes it difficult to retrieve data faster. Blockchain helps reduce the paperwork by providing a sophisticated database to manage all these data. The information is stored in blocks, and only authorized individuals are allowed access to the same.
Additionally, medical professionals with access to this data can easily gain access to the same without communicating with other staff or other healthcare institutions. This helps a lot in case of an emergency since no protocols would need to be followed.
Recently, there has been an influx of cyberattacks on healthcare systems in different healthcare institutions. This is mainly caused by poor communication between patients, medical institutions, and healthcare providers. Blockchain technology helps solve this by providing a transparent ledger that tracks payments, medical prescriptions, and documentation simultaneously.
Pharmaceutical companies can use blockchain technology to track the origin of drugs. These companies can register private blockchain and use the same to confirm the authenticity of the drugs. Companies that have access to the private blockchain will use this as proof that their drugs are authentic.
So far, the Taipei Medical University Hospital in collaboration with the Digital Treasury Corporation has introduced phrOS, the world’s first hospital-wide blockchain integration project that will help to accelerate collaboration within the healthcare industry. This will happen through tapping on the various benefits of health data sharing but ensuring there is data privacy.
The platform will help increase transparency between medical institutions since the patient’s medical information will be stored on the blockchain. The data will include images as well as various records concerning the patient’s condition. This information will be accessible both by doctors and patients through a mobile app.
Also, there are several clinical trials that are being conducted within the pharmaceutical industry to test the effectiveness and tolerance of certain drugs in patients. The process usually takes months and sometimes years. As such, a lot of mistakes can be made during the process, leading to failure and wastage of millions invested in the same.
Blockchain technology solves this issue by providing proof-of-existence for documents involved in the trials, and allow easy confirmation of the authenticity of these documents. To add new transaction data, the nodes will evaluate the validity and coherence of the data with blockchain history.
As such, modification of existing information would require tampering with many computers in the network.
This would provide security in such clinical trials since current research reports are modified because no technology can prevent this.
Blockchain technology continues to gain importance in healthcare to reduce paperwork, eliminate counterfeit drugs, and manage patient records.
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