The blockchain is without doubt one of the most transformative technological achievements of our decade. Originally created to trace the movement of cryptocurrencies, it’s become evident that its potential applications are considerably more widespread, notably in the healthcare business which has long been suffering from major problems relating to data security and transparency issues. Blockchain technology and smart contracts will bring about changes that will be hard to ignore, so if you’re interested in investigating blockchain tech and its potential impact on healthcare, then read on to find out more!
What is healthcare?
Healthcare is a sort of social engineering. It’s the process of altering society to bring about greater health for all. There are many distinct sorts of healthcare and each has their own unique value offer. One thing they all have in common, though, is that they were intended to assist individuals live better lives by offering access to required resources and services, without compromising one’s ability to pay. What is blockchain such an interesting technology? Simply put, it offers the highest level of data integrity and security. As such, it offers much more than simply protection for payment information; it also provides transparency into how personal data is handled which is especially significant in light of recent high-profile data breaches involving large firms like Equifax and Facebook. In other words, when it comes to healthcare records on a blockchain, there’s nowhere for hackers to hide. In addition, its decentralized nature means there’s no central point of failure: if you break into the company servers and steal all their data, you still can’t change or delete any data from the thousands of other users on the network because copies exist everywhere.
What’s more, blockchain opens up the potential to use the technology not only as a way to safeguard sensitive data but also as a method of authentication. A number of projects are already exploring this application of blockchain – enabling patients with dementia to prove who they are before accessing their medical records; developing identification cards with biometric sensors that function as national ID cards and allow citizens to vote digitally and sign legal documents with electronic signatures; building tamperproof public ledgers for storing land titles, intellectual property rights and educational certificates. The future of healthcare looks very promising indeed!
So what is blockchain, anyway?
Imagine a database that contains every transaction made across a peer-to-peer network. Those transactions may represent anything from monetary exchanges to pledges of allegiance (as in Carl Sagan’s famous example) or even complex computations derived using said transactions. These transactions can be bundled together into blocks and logged chronologically using encryption where they’re difficult (if not impossible) to change. Each block in the chain carries confirmed time stamps while indicating every single transaction ever performed between members – therefore blockchain as we call it today. With the arrival of blockchain, it’s evident that everyone will benefit from this groundbreaking innovation. Nowadays, many major corporations invest extensively in research and development to make innovative medicines available sooner and cheaper. Some even provide those therapies for low to no cost for some chronic ailments such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. However, the healthcare business is beset with data silos and inefficiencies that lead to exorbitant administrative expenditures and duplicate tests. All of these variables, combined with poor trust levels among consumers, leads to lower quality of care. But blockchain’s decentralization, powerful data encryption and intelligent contracts have the capacity to transform paradigms for good. For instance, IBM’s collaboration with Veridium Labs saw carbon credits issued in a digital token format that are redeemable for items such as renewable energy or sustainable hardwoods.
This means that the quantity of greenhouse gases released from your vehicle or residence may now be offset through blockchain-based trade systems, making it easier to offset our environmental effect. It also means that those living in poverty in underdeveloped countries might be connected to financial institutions for a better life. In the US, JPMorgan Chase is cooperating with Nasdaq and building a blockchain-powered securities lending platform that permits the transfer of ownership of shares from one party to another. When it comes to healthcare, blockchain has the capacity to offer a seamless experience by integrating patient records with insurance records so they never have to be refiled again. Additionally, access can be broadened so that insured individuals can acquire needed medicines without the need for costly paperwork or insurance claims. Not to mention it gives greater transparency into how health data is gathered and used by third parties (e.g., hospitals) (e.g., hospitals). Blockchain has the ability to reduce inefficiencies from healthcare and drive down total costs.
Why would anyone do anything with healthcare?
Healthcare is an industry which relies largely on trust. It needs to be able to offer accurate and timely information without fail, whilst being able to identify who data belongs to, where it originated from and whether it has been tampered with or altered. These are all functions that can be exploited by hackers looking for a way into your system. This makes healthcare one of the most vulnerable areas in modern civilization. The introduction of blockchain in this area can assist solve these challenges, as well as others like offering universal access to medical records for doctors and patients alike, creating a more secure registry for medical devices and making medical research more transparent. As much as the potential benefits seem significant, there are also possible drawbacks to watch out for – especially, the shortage of skilled professionals. In addition, any new technology is going to come with its own set of faults and mistakes that need ironing out – something that happens far too often in healthcare now.
For example, when the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) was first exposed to electronic patient records in 2003, the software used was determined to have cost £1 billion over five years and was so plagued with faults that they were judged worthless. That said, blockchain could well be what the doctor ordered. With its potential to establish immutable ledgers, barring unauthorised editing and fraudulent modifications, this sort of digital database could help make our healthcare systems safer. And it’s not just public health authorities that stand to benefit: commercial enterprises operating within the industry may find themselves facing less pressure due to lower risks.
The fact remains that we’re only at the start of our path towards a future in which we will learn how best to deploy blockchain technologies across industries and sectors. Despite certain challenges, there are many of reasons why we should continue exploring how they might operate in healthcare and see how valuable they will turn out to be. Hopefully, their implementation won’t take another 15 years to get properly.
There’s never been a better moment to place yourself in a position where you can seize on opportunities as they emerge. When it comes to running your own business, you’ve always got more possibilities than people realise. There’s an old saying: If you want anything done properly, do it yourself – yet not every job has to be done by one person! If you have knowledge and skills in your sector or market area then maybe you should set up your own agency or consultancy? Or perhaps as an entrepreneur, you don’t want anything too permanent so could operate things from home? Why not try opening up an online shop selling things linked to your industry? We’re not talking about a fortune-favouring startup, here. You can register for an account with eBay or Amazon to get started and utilize your savings or a little bit of money from family or friends to fund the store.
Keep an eye out for what sells and keep re-stocking, gradually growing your profile as an expert in your subject and gathering followers along the way. Alternatively, if you’re not convinced that you’ll be able to sustain your venture through life, try constructing a website as a side project – it could be just what you need to give you the drive that you need to go for that promotion or apply for graduate school. Whatever path you decide to follow, it’s crucial to realize that there are different ways of moving ahead in business. No two people will have the same approach and what works for one person may not be the answer for everyone else. It’s a tough world out there and you can’t afford to be complacent – even in times of uncertainty, there are ways that you can grow as an individual or a company. Here are three recommendations to help you discover success as an Entrepreneur in today’s world
Blockchain has been in development since 2008, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that people began to realize its possibilities. Unlike traditional databases where information is stored centrally, data on a blockchain is distributed amongst several nodes. This means that there’s no central point of weakness for hackers to exploit. It also means that no one firm can control access to the data. The technology offers higher security and privacy, greater transparency and better traceability than previous solutions. As well as this, it’s incredibly efficient with transactions being settled within seconds instead of days like with old systems. These benefits have seen demand develop significantly over recent years with some projecting that 50% of banks will be utilizing blockchain by 2020 and 10% of healthcare companies will use it by next year. One of the key advantages to blockchain technology is that data may be accessed by patients who want to see their own medical information. Traditionally, medical records are stored by hospitals or clinics and not available to the patient directly – meaning they cannot share them or fix any problems without going through a time-consuming process.
However, a system built on blockchain would allow individuals to have complete ownership over their health data and determine how much of it they wish to share with different providers or even publicly. With increasing demand for digitalisation in our society, blockchain could provide a good solution because it guarantees safety and simultaneously enhancing efficiency. To far, IBM is one of the leading firms looking at novel ways blockchain could change healthcare. In 2016, they paired up with Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Department of Health to launch a pilot project which employs blockchain as part of electronic health records (EHR) (EHR). There are four main stages in this project: intake, order entry, medication administration and discharge. Data is transferred across all four stages via an immutable ledger which means errors can be quickly identified and fixed while patients have control over their personal data – something that isn’t possible in traditional systems. A proof-of-concept study carried out by CUMC found that the new system increased productivity from 22 minutes per transaction down to 2 minutes per transaction – resulting in less paperwork for doctors which leaves more time for quality patient care. Another interesting use of blockchain in the healthcare sector is the tracking of drugs.
According to World Health Organisation estimates, approximately 7 million people die each year owing to counterfeit drugs alone. Drugs are routinely sent abroad thus the product code can change multiple times along the route and this makes it tough for authorities to maintain track of shipments. By assigning unique numbers to every medicine which then gets recorded on a decentralised ledger when made, authorities would be able to quickly identify exactly where each shipment came from and whether it was genuine or counterfeit. Another developing application in healthcare is using blockchain technology to manage equipment such as pacemakers and insulin pumps which need frequent maintenance checks according to tight rules set by regulatory authorities such as FDA or CFDA respectively. If a device’s firmware, programming or battery began to malfunction, the system would be automatically detected and the patient would be told in real-time. This means that faults can be remedied before they become serious and leads to a higher degree of patient satisfaction. Whilst blockchain technology could have an impact on just about every part of healthcare, one place it could really make a difference is in drug discovery. Drug discovery is a long and costly process – it takes an average of $1 billion and 12 years to develop one single new medication.
Considering this, it’s obvious why pharmaceutical corporations are eager to find innovative ways to speed up the procedure. Up until now, research and development has mostly been a manual process which relies on the knowledge of individual academics. What blockchain may offer is an automated system where data would be regularly exchanged across many people and examined for patterns in an effort to detect breakthroughs earlier on. This would lead to huge savings and might significantly shorten the time it takes to create new therapies – lowering expenses by as much as 80%. Furthermore, blockchain technology could aid with patenting also by generating an encrypted timestamp that records when a researcher first shares their discovery with the system. The timestamp would also include information such as the scientist’s location, what they’re investigating and how they’re researching it. Crucially, this would mean that if a researcher were to work with someone else on their research at any point in the future, all of these data will be preserved and logged onto the blockchain. To summarize: Blockchains are making healthcare more transparent while also saving money by speeding up discoveries. And because medical records will eventually no longer remain primarily within clinics or hospitals but instead dispersed across public ledgers via blockchains, patients’ privacy will be protected better than ever before.
Who Is Using Blockchain In The Industry Today?
A few of the early adopters in the healthcare business that have used blockchain technology are: MedRec, Patientory, Pokitdok and Gem. MedRec has built a mechanism for keeping medical records on a decentralized database. Pokitdok performs much of what you would expect from a healthcare company, but they use blockchain to store personally identifiable information securely and give access to it only by those who need it. Patientory provides cloud-based software for managing medical records and uses blockchain to protect critical data. Gem offers a hosted blockchain platform with tools to make developing apps easier. The team at Gem is focused on bringing blockchain technology to the world and this involves making sure it’s not just used by developers. Anyone can construct an app using their open source library called Blockly. The team at Gem hopes this will ensure that blockchain isn’t just used by companies, banks or governments – but rather common people all around the world. What Else Is Being Done To Bring Blockchain To Health?: The endeavor follows a report from October 2016, when Microsoft worked with Accenture and four other significant healthcare firms (the Mayo Clinic; Humana; Optum; and Philips) to improve treatment through blockchains.
The usage of blockchains could improve how we track pharmaceuticals as well as manage supply chains in general – two things that happen to be some of the largest difficulties encountered by today’s hospitals.
These advances don’t come without hurdles either. Government authorities throughout the world need to grasp how it works before they’ll be able to properly control its usage in both private firms and public institutions. There are also technological challenges like scalability and energy consumption, so these need to be addressed if we want widespread adoption of blockchain. Luckily there are a lot of smart minds working on solving these problems. And judging by the number of collaborations happening between groups in different industries, it seems that many people believe blockchain is worth investing time and resources into. It’s evident this tendency won’t go away anytime soon. In fact, more and more sectors are adopting the technology. For example, Walmart has filed a patent application for developing distributed databases on the blockchain. And IBM has revealed intentions to invest $200 million over five years in a Watson-powered health network which incorporates blockchain technology such as Ethereum’s Smart Contracts. As IBM notes: This investment will assist advance IBM’s mission of delivering affordable, individualized health care to communities around the world. Their money will be granted to projects that focus on solving needs in chronic and infectious diseases, maternity and child health, and cancer. With IBM’s backing, the potential of blockchain in the healthcare industry is boundless. The future of medicine looks bright.
New technologies are changing the way doctors and patients communicate, and it’s now possible to acquire health information that was once unreachable. Blockchain is one of the most interesting new technologies in this industry since it brings together trust and transparency. It will revolutionize the lives of everyone in the globe by providing security and protection of personal data while ensuring individuals are in control of where their information goes. Not only will blockchain affect how we manage our health, but it will transform how healthcare is supplied to us as well. Hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies may need to adopt new strategies for providing healthcare services – as well as doing it in a secure manner – to be successful. Data breaches, identity theft and privacy infractions are on the rise. And as more people share their health information with third-party merchants and companies, this will only rise. But blockchain is a possible solution to these difficulties. It is quite simple to integrate blockchain technology, it’s safe and makes data breaches practically impossible, and it increases accountability in the industry. Healthcare providers that don’t start embracing blockchain technology run the risk of being left behind in a world where it has become the new norm for ensuring privacy – while still permitting innovation in healthcare delivery. Blockchain’s decentralized nature presents an alternative to the current centralized systems that are vulnerable to hackers. Those that have already implemented the technology report tremendous gains. One startup, PokitDok, employs blockchain and claims up to 75% of hospitals it communicates with have decreased costs. A medical device business found through the adoption of a blockchain system that staff productivity increased by 5%. Overall, organizations have reported savings of 30% when utilizing this new technology.
What Are the Benefits Of Implementing Blockchain In The Healthcare Sector?
Companies are starting to adopt blockchain into their healthcare systems and it’s changing the way we do business. There are many advantages of blockchain, but some of them include:
-Confidentiality: Patient information that is stored on a blockchain cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties. This means that patient data will not be shared with any other parties without their consent. This also means that even if there was a breach, hackers would not have access to any personal information.
-Transparency: With an open ledger, all transactions are tracked and monitored in real time. -Income Generation: Transactions on a blockchain can include fees which can help create revenue for both the provider and consumer of those services. All transactions are publicly visible so providers can see how much money they’re coming in from various sources such as prescription payments or insurance reimbursements.
-Improved Trust And Security: Some experts believe that this technology could bring piece of mind to patients who may have felt insecure when sharing their medical records owing to identity theft worries. The adoption of smart contracts may make patients feel more secure knowing that third party corporations won’t be able to sell their information without authorisation, especially since these contracts demand two or more parties agree before going through with the transaction.
-Decreased Medical Errors: Another key benefit of blockchain is its capacity to eliminate errors during medicine distribution. These errors happen commonly and might lead to health consequences. Studies suggest that up to 12% of persons given the improper dosage die within 30 days after being prescribed a medicine, which adds up quickly when more than 6 billion prescriptions are delivered every year. It’s estimated that one out of every 10 adults take 5 or more medications per day; making miscommunications common between doctors, pharmacists and patients themselves. Doctors usually rely on verbal communication when prescribing drugs over phone calls or email because typing something down introduces human error; the same problem exists with pharmacists distributing prescriptions (although this does get recorded in some instances) (although this does get recorded in some instances).
Blockchain presents a possibility for trustless verification across stakeholders where no one individual has power over any part of distributing pharmaceuticals, which boosts accuracy dramatically. By saving each step of the procedure on a blockchain and asking each stakeholder to approve it before advancing, a pharmacist can verify that he didn’t fill the prescription erroneously. If a doctor doesn’t want to chat on the phone about what type of drug has to be prescribed, he or she can send an encrypted message including important facts about the patient along with his or her digital signature. Once authenticated by whatever else needs to sign off, it goes right onto the blockchain. This decentralized strategy minimizes the possibility of human mistake at each point in distributing medications. Blockchain allows patients to be more active in their own care and have better control over which pharmaceuticals are given to them.
-Control: Patients can determine which drugs they want or need and this information is safely saved on the blockchain. They can connect with their physician, pharmacies, labs, and any other component of their treatment team using the software’s messaging feature that keeps each exchange documented on the blockchain. For example, a patient may ask for more blood tests because of a certain symptom and by sending this request to their physician via the software, it creates a record of that decision that is then signed by both parties and saved on the public ledger. This way, the patient knows that their physician is aware of the issue and can provide a diagnosis or an explanation for the discrepancy.
-Benefits to Healthcare Providers: Blockchain provides a secure environment for healthcare providers to work in. This is because the program needs each new change to be approved by every other stakeholder, which lowers errors and avoids fraud. Medical errors are becoming more widespread with prescriptions and treatments not being accurately conveyed between doctors. Blockchain helps avoid this by generating a trackable history that can be checked afterwards in case of any errors or mistakes.
-Blockchain Delivers Benefits To Other Parties Involved In Healthcare: Blockchain also provides benefits to other parties involved in healthcare like patients, governments, insurance, pharmaceuticals, physicians, hospitals and more. -Patients: Blockchain is a game-changer for patients, enabling the ability to be more active in their own care. Blockchain can aid with life-threatening conditions by enabling simple access to information about current or former prescriptions and medications. A study done by IBM Watson Health revealed that blockchain will help patients receive faster, safer and more transparent treatment.
-Governments: Governments are also gaining from blockchain since it gives a mechanism for them to monitor patient data, which can lead to earlier detection of disease outbreaks or any other possible problems that could occur. This is crucial because the expense of treating pandemics or epidemics is tenfold larger than the cost of preventative interventions.
Developments in blockchain technology are altering healthcare around the world. The capacity of blockchain to give patients control of their health data and enable them to share it with whoever they want could create a method for individuals and providers to work together toward better health. Many governments are investing in blockchain-based solutions as a method to enhance healthcare, notably Japan which has been investing $200 million each year since 2016. In France, there is an ongoing initiative called PHARMAKON that attempts to use blockchain for medication supply chain management while in Germany, there is a business called Docschain, which uses blockchain for medical data. There are many more examples of how this disruptive technology is changing many sectors of healthcare and this blog post only covers some! In Taiwan, one business offers a marketplace where customers can buy admission to clinical trials. One patient would be able to seek for information regarding clinical trials and pay the clinic or researcher directly rather than having to rely on centralized entities like insurance companies or government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. Another firm exploits blockchain’s decentralized nature to assist manage massive data by paying individuals who contribute research findings.
The potential applications of blockchain in healthcare are immense, said Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of XPRIZE Foundation, especially when you consider the power that comes from networks – uniting disparate participants from different organizations across industries towards solving complex problems. That’s why we think of blockchain as perhaps one of the most important platforms, ever, he continued. It’s going to change not just healthcare but every industry. When these network effects get turned on full force, I think you’ll see an explosion of productivity and invention like we haven’t seen before. We have yet to completely understand the ramifications of blockchain on our society, but we’re at least optimistic that it will have broad reaching benefits. And while there are clearly obstacles ahead (privacy, legislation), if developed properly, blockchain may very well constitute a watershed moment in the growth of human civilisation. If nothing else, it should help us to perform what we do more efficiently. For example, in China, hospitals are utilizing blockchain to monitor infectious diseases and quarantine procedures since they cannot afford state-of-the art surveillance equipment. They also intend to use blockchain to control the quality of hospital food. This same country sees blockchain as being advantageous for supply chains and food safety.
In Africa, blockchain is helping to assure ethical and sustainable purchase of goods, restrict trade fraud and illicit trafficking, lower the cost of remittances, promote transparency in financial services, and speed up land reform processes. Lastly, there are various companies developing out ways to utilise blockchain for humanitarian relief delivery. Recently IBM announced a cooperation with Accenture and George Washington University to produce AI powered blockchain solution for healthcare professionals which will enable safe communication between care providers. This, together with the blockchain-powered experimental programs listed above, is a clear evidence of advancement in healthcare. The World Economic Forum expects that blockchain will become a fundamental part of the global economy. This is true for all sectors, but it’s especially applicable to healthcare given the enormity and diversity of data collected in this area. However, one key difficulty is that blockchain and its use cases are still new therefore we need more education and testing to figure out how best to integrate it into healthcare operations. This involves developing new blockchain-based solutions that could have an influence on the health system and examining which regulatory frameworks will make sense for healthcare.
In conclusion, blockchain is a game changer for the future of healthcare. The ability to track data and communicate it easily with different organizations or individuals in a trusted manner has enormous potential to improve quality of life. While there are hurdles to solve, we must set laws and think carefully about how to employ this technology in ways that benefit both patients and doctors. The move to a blockchain-driven healthcare environment will be gradual, but it is happening. Already, governments and corporations throughout the world are laying the basis for a more connected and secure future of healthcare. Estonia, for instance, is rolling out blockchain-based electronic health records which will have the potential to eliminate medical errors and increase the quality of care. In India, medical entrepreneurs are designing blockchain-enabled tools to manage chronic disease like diabetes. These are just a few instances of how healthcare facilities are exploring and adopting this great tool. We can only anticipate the countless opportunities that lay ahead as we work together to realize blockchain’s promise in healthcare.