Using Blockchain in Healthcare

August 27, 2018

The term blockchain might sound familiar, ever since the rise of cryptocurrencies. It is a peer to peer distributed ledger technology that was primarily used as the underlying architecture for the cryptocurrencies. The significant advantage that attracts everyone to this tech is its ability to keep your data unrecognisable until it reaches the recipient, making it the safest system for data sharing. The financial sector has already started to make their progress through blockchain. Now the healthcare sector is using this new element of the tech world to grow.

Health records in a distributed environment

The blockchain is valued in healthcare primarily for its ability to privately, securely and comprehensively track the health records of a patient. Think about how the health records of a person are currently stored. It is a puzzle with its pieces spread amongst many providers. Your primary care doctor carries a part of it. Several pieces are held by other specialists you have ever visited. The remaining bits can be found in many wearable devices that track your health. The blockchain technology helps the experts to bring all these pieces together and make a brighter image of your health. When a blockchain based system is used, you can walk into your physician’s room with all your medical history located somewhere in the network. With your consent, the doctor can examine and edit your data. The follow-up doctor can access all these updated data later again with your permission.

Insurance claim evaluation and disbursements

A recently published research paper by IBM reveals that the currently used methods for storing and reconciling financial data in insurance companies are outdated and fragmented. Also, the data sharing in the insurance workflow is not smooth as it supposed to be. Many organisations are hesitant to share data due to multiple reasons, such as having to abide by laws and regulations (HIPAA). This reluctance in sharing data helps criminals to make false claims and get away with it. The blockchain technology can offer a remedy to this problem by enabling the secure sharing of data among insurers. It can minimise counterfeiting, double booking and contract alterations. What the technology allows for the insures to have a permanent and auditable record of claim activities while creating receipts at any stage of the claims process. Along with improvements in data sharing, automation of insurance process can be achieved through blockchain. With the aid of up to date shared health records and smart contracts, the automated process can avoid delays and reduce overhead cost.

Investment scenario across the healthcare landscape

Global Blockchain in Healthcare Market- Analysis and Forecast, 2017-2025” by BIS shows that the blockchain in health care is roughly $177 million in 2018 and would be over $5.6 billion by 2025. The drive for blockchain in health care is going to be the urgent need to improve the interoperability and security of healthcare information system. By 2020, 70%of the organisations are expected to have research going on to get the technology onboard. With the success stories of early adopters like Estonia’s healthcare system, significant disruption is assumed in this field.

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