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Healthcare Industry and Blockchain Technology



 

Blockchain is a public digital ledger that allows to store and manage information easily. It offers many benefits to all areas in the online industry, from decentralised information to the ability to make transaction without a third party.

One of the sectors that can benefit from the technology of blockchains is the healthcare area. For example, it allows the share medical data between the healthcare professionals and the patients without compromising the confidentiality of the information.

Blockchains, the evolution of technology

There is a misconception about the uses of the blockchains. Although they became popular thanks to the close relationship with the cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, this technology brings important features that can be used for many other objectives. Some companies are already applying the blockchains to manage the important information they need.

A blockchain is created whenever there is a transaction or someone uploads information to the network. This data is organized through timestaps and generate a block of chains and links. All the information, once it is inside the blockchain, can’t be altered, modified, or removed from anyone, not even the administrator.

It is decentralized, which means that the data inside it doesn’t go to a company or corporation that could use it to control their clients. You can access to the information through the network, no matter where you are. It is safe and secure.

Why apply Blockchains in the Healthcare industry?

It is important to understand that the blockchain technology is not the miracle solution for all technological problems. Still, it can be an essential tool to make many tedious work something automatized and easy. Here are some of the most useful ways to apply blockchains in Healthcare.

– Digital Data and Personal Information: Hospitals and other Healthcare facilities have to manage great amounts of personal data. There can be hundreds of patients every day, some of them opening their health record for the first time. There are also many doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, whose information also needs to be saved for administration, human resources, payments, and such.

Blockchains allow to manage and organize all the data, storing it on the network to facilitate the access to the database.

– Records and Insurances: Having the information organized on the database, a doctor can check the medical history of a patient even if it is the first time that this patient is seeing that doctor. Blockchains eliminates the time that it used to take to get the records of each patient from one doctor to another, which is one of the reasons that people needs to make appointments with at least a few days of anticipation.

It also helps to keep track of the insurance that each patient has, making the process of payments faster and the doctors will be able to determine if the patient can have a certain procedure based on the insurance it has.

– Medical Research: Blockchains can be a useful tool for clinical researchers. Using the information on the database, they can select the participants for specific studies, seeing in a few minutes which patients have the conditions and requirements that they need for the study group. This data can be easily shared with other researchers in different areas, helping to compare the results and achieving a more solid conclusion.

– Supply Chain Management: The blockchain technology can also help into the distribution of supply, keeping track of the different materials that the Healthcare institution could be missing. It helps keep organized the storage, informing in short notice when any of the health supply needs to be refilled.

It allows the hospital and clinics facilities to contact the supply distributors, like blood storages and other providers and manufacturers, with the information of what they need before they need it. The process is automatized, and there is a direct communication between the parts without the involvement of a third party that could slow the process.

Pros and cons of Blockchains on Healthcare industry

Pros:

The Blockchain technology is inmutable, which means that all the information uploaded on the network can’t be modified or remove. That way, it avoids the loss of vital information through unexpected damage, something that can happen on physical archives or if the data is saved on a database in a main computer system.

It is decentralised, so anyone can have access to the information, allowing doctors to share a patient’s medical history to discuss the problem and the treatment. It is very helpful to know the allergies of the patients before a procedure or a surgery, avoiding an abnormal reaction to a medication.

Cons:

Because of the transparency of blockchains, the information stored that way becomes public, so anyone can look at it even if they can’t modify it. It affects the confidentiality of the patient’s record. Although the blockchain is secure in some ways, it can be hacked, so it is not 100% safe-proof.

Conclusion

In many aspects, the blockchains can be an advance on the way that many daily process work. It helps to organize information that could represent long hours of manual work in only a few seconds, and allows people to access to the database to find the data necessary.

Applying the blockchain technology on the Healthcare industry means an improvement in the way the healthcare entities manage the information of patients’ records and medical personnel. It allows healthcare professionals to access to the pertinent information about a patient, about the different illness, injuries, and treatment that person has received in the past. Many patients don’t remember every medication they have taken, or if they are allergic to specific medicine.

It also can help to have the medical supply store filled with the needed materials. It allows to manage the payments for the healthcare employees, and the insurance companies that the patients have. In theory, it will help save time in a chaotic environment such as the healthcare institutions.

Still, there are some things that need to be solved, like the public access to confidential information. Nevertheless, the benefits blockchains can offer to the Healthcare industry can be worth the risks.

Image by Julien Tromeur from Pixabay



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