Blockchain & Healthcare
In the past 20 years, the healthcare industry has been flooded by centralized data systems, data regulations and electronic medical record (EMR) providers.
The shortage of communication possibilities among existing systems, containing health data at both the patient (micro) and public health (macro) levels explains the obstacles in the following situations:
- When patients want to consult medical services from other providers
- When the investigators of a medical examination wish to verify the data of its participants
- When pharmaceutical organizations seek assurance of the authenticity of drugs, circulating in global markets
Due to the inability of data-sharing and the isolated management of EMRs, patients spend valuable time and resources using unnecessary medical care. For example, executing duplicate blood tests. During emergencies, health professionals providing care may not have full visibility over a patient’s medical history, which could result in improper treatments.
Traceability, a secure supply chain is required to prevent the distribution of counterfeit or unauthorized drugs. The usage of wrong medications could result in unsuccessful treatments or addiction. Besides, there are also unknown side effects, which could be deadly. Blockchain presents the possibility to track & register drugs in an immutable record and address the problem of illegal transport or unauthorized production. The Ethereum smart-contracts could provide a solution for these issues.
Use Cases in Healthcare
Some of the uses case blockchain technology is capable to improve are managing EHRs, privacy, and accountability.
- Management of EHRs; Through decentralized databases, blockchain technology facilitates safe and structured data sharing among the healthcare industry. For example to secure patients data, visibility on medical records and allow researchers to use this shared data for medical examination.
- Patient in control; Blockchain enables data ownership through privacy and permission layers built onto the network. Patients won't be able to delete medical data entered by their doctor, but they do control the access. Patients can share all their data with medical experts or only share identifiable data with researchers or pharmaceutical companies.
- Safer drugs; Supply chain management becomes more transparent, secure and accountable due to the blockchain technology. Pharmaceutical companies can register their drugs on the blockchain and track it from production to the patient. On the other side, patients can verify the authenticity of their drugs.