What are the Current Challenges Facing the Healthcare Industry?
Each time a Patient consults a doctor he/she is subjected to undergo various tests and checkups which guide the doctor to come to a proper conclusion about the reason/cause of the illness. Doctors, after understanding and making their own conclusions about the patient’s illness, often prescribe and convey a patient’s issue with required treatment. This is all done on paper, and the next time the patient has to produce the previous reports may be to the same/different doctor, which he/she will use as a reference for the checkup. It may happen that these papers are lost over time. This creates the deletion of previous health data and hence the doctor must initiate a fresh round of tests and checkups, which also carries a potential threat to be lost.
There have been various systems to store patient data but that becomes a centralized system which can be subject to potential hacks and the whole system data would be under danger. Healthcare data needs the utmost privacy and security. It can hurt the personal sentiment of the patients and his people. This is just one issue which portrays the need for a system which can provide proper management of healthcare data ensuring the privacy of the same.
The blockchain is the best solution to date which removes all the possible drawbacks, the healthcare industry is currently facing. This technology is a distributed open ledger which can record data, and subsequently gather and lock the data with a high level of security by using cryptographic hash codes in what is called a “block”, and are then linked with the previous “block”. This makes it immutable and transparent. By using blockchain technology, the healthcare industry can store patients’ data in the open ledger distributed among the network members. Each time a patient approaches a doctor, the prescriptions and all the data relevant to the patient’s health is uploaded to the ledger. When the patient consults a same/different doctor later in his life, he/she can add that doctor to the network containing his health data. This will come handy and most importantly high privacy and security levels that it cannot be stolen/hacked by some intruder.
Here are 3 possible blockchain applications in the healthcare industry, helping the industry flourish beyond its current level/capacity with improved efficiency and comfort to all members of the healthcare industry.
Maintaining Immutable and transparent Records
Longitudinal patent records which will be consisting of each checkup reports, prescriptions, disease registries can be maintained with the help of blockchain technology. This can come in handy for the doctors while doing the treatment. There is hence primarily less fear of losing the paper-based prescriptions and reports. Medical data can also be tampered with, or misused or even stolen too. A patient who has for example given for blood test and by mistakenly he forgets to bring the receipt that needs to produced to get the report. He will not be provided with the report unless he provides the receipt. Blockchain can solve these problems and make the system more efficient.
Fundraising using Digital Currencies
Blockchain can also help avail fundings for the healthcare industry. There are various sections in this industry viz Research & Development, New facilities, new types of equipment, Commercial Real estates, etc. Digital currencies may invite more fundings as it will broaden the network of investing among communities, physician partnerships and investors. There may likely happen new initial coin offerings (ICOs) which will help raise funds for treatments and cures in the biotechnological sector. Expansion of land for new additions to any hospital or any healthcare center also needs funding. The blockchain technology has also many asset holding cryptocurrencies that can be used as mortgages for availing funds.
Supply Chain Tracking
One of the Biggest advantages of blockchain technology is supply chain tracking. It has found its efficient application in various Logistic industries. This improves the transparency with an increased amount of trust in the minds of the members of the blockchain network. The retracement of the source to the destination path of any product which is transmitted from one place to another is possible with the blockchain technology. This technology can also be applied to the healthcare industry to track equipment and medicines ensuring its authenticity. Counterfeit drugs alone have come up to around $200 billion per year for the US healthcare industry as per reports. And even many people die after intake of such counterfeit drugs. Blockchain can, hence, resolve the issues even pertaining to lives with supply chain tracking of medicines and equipment.
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