The healthcare industry has made significant strides towards digitizing their services in recent years, in an effort some are calling the digital revolution of healthcare. As part of this, new programs and technologies are being developed at a rate we’ve never witnessed before. In addition to these new technologies, however, healthcare is also not averse to transferring the uses of preexisting technologies from other industries into their own.
One of these transferable technologies is blockchain, which was originally created for and found its success in the cryptocurrency field. Despite this, the enhanced security features are making the technology a desirable option for many fields, including healthcare, where the amount of data passed through online servers is only set to increase.
Despite initial skepticism about the safety of the technology and predictions that healthcare could not afford the required upgrades to existing systems to make it work, it seems many organizations are now coming around to the idea. With so many uses for blockchain within this industry, some of which will be discussed in this article, it’s easy to see why the change in attitude has been so rapidly achieved.
It Provides Better Management Of Medical History
It’s difficult to argue that the way the U.S healthcare system currently stores medical data is inefficient on such a large scale that it puts patients at risk. At the moment, many organizations store medical data in silos with no clear filing system, making it almost impossible for doctors to diagnose, treat and care for patients within a timely manner.
That isn’t as bad as it gets, however, with patients requiring specialist involvement having to carry their medical data from one doctor to another. With most organizations now digitizing their medical records as standard, however, there is supporting evidence that shows organizations are willing and ready to make necessary changes.
Using blockchain technology, information stored in these digitized systems can be transferred to systems that allow a patient complete control over their medical history. This, in turn, provides patients will full autonomy over those who receive permission to access their medical history, without risk of data being breached or being withheld from certain professionals.
Patients are also benefiting from faster diagnoses and treatments as a result, as doctors will be provided with all the information they need to make informed decisions without running costly and potentially irrelevant tests.
Makes Payment Processing Faster
Healthcare insurance facilities are becoming increasingly frustrated by the current payment systems in place in organizations across the country. This has led to a demand for said organizations and providers to adopt digital payment systems that enable faster payment processing and electronic data interchange (EDI) processing.
Some key healthcare organizations are willing to put themselves forwards as frontrunners in the industry and have adopted blockchain systems that do exactly this. The results so far have been extremely promising, with blockchain technology able to process claims faster and manage revenue cycles more securely and efficiently.
Prevents Counterfeit Drugs From Entering The Market
The pharmaceutical sector of the healthcare industry is finding it increasingly difficult to prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the mainstream market. This has led to significant losses for drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical businesses, who have shouldered the loss. It also poses a significant threat to consumers who could potentially be without life-saving medications due to reduced stock counts.
Responsible for this is thought to be an insufficient lack of monitoring, with there being no secure digital platform or alternative way of tracking where drugs have come from. The current systems in place don’t even transfer information to one another, meaning pharmaceutical companies have no way of knowing what’s happening to their own products.
Some have suggested that blockchain technology could be a savior for preventing these drugs from getting to market. This is partly due to the fact that it is decentralized, meaning data cannot be tampered with and will always legitimately represent the transactions made. It will also make information about the drug’s source available, which practically stops fraudulent behavior.
If the use of blockchain for this purpose does become mainstream, it could make the cost of bringing drugs to market lower significantly, making pharmaceuticals more affordable in the long run.
Incentivizes Medical Adherence
There has been an increasing number of patients straying from their treatment plans in the U.S in recent years, leading to conditions worsening and an increasing strain on the healthcare system as a whole. In an attempt to fix this, many healthcare companies have turned to offer rewards as a way of incentivizing medical adherence.
These reward systems may seem hypocritical, but many healthcare professionals say they have become a crucial way of improving patient safety, overall well-being and preventing opioid overdoses. The reduction in people with worsening symptoms could also lead to significant healthcare savings over time.
Using blockchain technology to manage this ensures patients are able to transfer data to doctors and other medical professionals through a smart digital system. This is often used for things like smart medical devices, where data can be sent directly from a patient’s device, like a pedometer, to the doctor through the IoT.
Having this information will allow a doctor to determine whether a patient is keeping up with their care plan, and provide micropayments or other rewards for doing so. Equally, if someone isn’t paying attention to their care plan, having this data may give a doctor’s the confidence necessary to challenge a patient’s bluff, leading to better outcomes overall.
While blockchain’s relationship with the healthcare industry may still be in its infancy, the use cases we have highlighted show it is already making a significant impact. Already, the healthcare industry is borrowing from other successful industries to use blockchain as a way of preventing fraud and transferring sensitive data from one resource to another.
These uses show that blockchain will no doubt be a remarkably crucial aspect of healthcare as we delve deeper into the digital revolution and reveal more ways that the industry could make their services more efficient. The transparency this will provide our healthcare system with a service that will completely revolutionize the relationships between patients and medical professionals, leading to better treatment outcomes and improved attitudes towards the healthcare industry as a whole.
Author bio: This article was written by Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling