Blockchain technology used to be limited to cryptocurrency applications. However, as cryptographically-secured technologies continue to develop, practical applications for other industries beyond digital currencies are providing solutions for a number of problems.
One realm where blockchain tech has the potential to offer these practical solutions is in the healthcare industry. From secure medical record access and identity protection to data democratization and beyond, here’s how blockchain is shaping up to change the world of healthcare.
Healthcare and cryptocurrency certainly don’t seem like they would go hand-in-hand, but the revolutionary approach blockchain brings to financial technology has high levels of potential. Opportunities exist for blockchain tech to help bridge the gap when it comes to traditionally unconnected data silos, such as between healthcare payers and healthcare providers.
The increase in efficiency this can bring doesn’t end just there, however. Blockchain’s natural resistance to tampering is an excellent method for securing healthcare data. Patient access to their own data can also be facilitated more easily using cryptographic security measures, all of which provides better information transfer between patient, provider, and payer whenever necessary.
Blockchain tech is still very much in its earliest stages, which means that there are a number of possibilities for healthcare applications, which include:
- Patient record security: Blockchain tech can be used to secure EMR Data Records created by providers and their patients. New entries to this record would be recorded electronically in chronological order and would provide clarity in who added all new information.
- Proof of identity: Blockchain would support identity linking by providing unalterable records of patient identities as well as the identities of any healthcare professionals treating those patients.
- Patient consent records: Blockchain tech has the ability to empower patients by providing immutable proof of their consent decisions. Directives regarding care would be secure, representing patient wishes clearly and without ambiguity.
Blockchain’s potential to manage a diverse partner network can provide high levels of relief to healthcare organizations. The possibilities include making financial and healthcare data collection and reconciliation much more streamlined and simplified, which can take the pressure off of IT professionals that need to build and maintain vast infrastructures for these healthcare organizations.
Providing additional layers of trust in the way of cryptographic security means that blockchain potentially bridges the gap between data silos that would otherwise be highly segmented. IT professionals working in the healthcare industry should keep in mind that this makes blockchain tech a potentially powerful tool, but this doesn’t make it infallible; it is, sadly, not a panacea.
Transition to blockchain-based data management will have its own challenges, especially in the realm of widespread adoption and management. Even if implementation becomes widespread, blockchain tech won’t solve every problem healthcare organizations face. At the same time, however, the potential for progress towards more secure data that’s still more accessible to those who require that access is a major boon to the industry at large.