Healthcare is a significant part of society, and is constantly looking for ways to meet patients’ needs better. New trends are launched, aiming to transform the healthcare industry landscape, and of all the outstanding technologies, blockchain is the one that stands out the most, aiming to take the healthcare sector to a whole different level. If, at some point, you’ve been interested in learning how to buy crypto, you also likely came across several aspects related to blockchain and know about its incredible potential to reshape many industries – including healthcare.
According to reports, the healthcare profit pools will reach $790 billion by 2026, showing the extensiveness of the sector. Unfortunately, though, healthcare is far from being perfect, as it faces many challenges, such as complex billing systems, ambiguity about medical research and clinical trials, and data sharing problems. Fortunately, blockchain can help address these challenges, improving healthcare.
Understanding blockchain’s role in the healthcare sector
The healthcare sector is complex, as patient care involves different stakeholders, from hospitals and doctors to insurance companies and government agencies. Blockchain is an excellent solution because it facilitates communication between the parties, allowing them to exchange critical information easily. By implementing blockchain, healthcare companies can create an immutable and tamper-proof patient data record, enabling easy access and sharing among authorized parties. As a result, patients also have full control over their health information.
Moreover, blockchain helps reduce data breach risk, ensuring that patient information remains private and safe at all times. Unfortunately, incidents of stolen or hacked medical data aren’t uncommon in healthcare – in fact, according to GlobeNewswire, there were more than 50.4 million breaches in patient records in 2021 alone. These staggering numbers are a call for action with the purpose of helping the healthcare industry overcome current issues through effective solutions. This is where blockchain plays a major role, lowering the risk of data fraud, boosting transparency and building better healthcare systems.
Blockchain as a game-changer in healthcare
Blockchain has a significant impact in the healthcare industry, providing many incredible benefits, which we will discuss in what follows.
Strong data security
Blockchain is transparent and tamper-proof; therefore, it plays a major role in ensuring secure healthcare data management. The technology solves common issues of the industry, whether related to interoperability and fraud or data breaches. Instead of being stored on a central server, patient data is stored on the blockchain, preventing hackers’ access to it. This is due to encryption, as blockchain encodes information about patients, allowing only those with authorized permission to access it.
Adverse drug reactions are a significant issue in the healthcare industry, leading to thousands of hospitalizations, and in some instances, death. Not only that but treating adverse drug reactions can also be incredibly costly, accounting for around billions of dollars yearly. The good news is that blockchain can change that once and for all by checking drugs’ authenticity throughout the supply chain. As a result, it becomes easier to detect counterfeit or adulterated drugs. Moreover, blockchain can track patient outcomes, which can help spot adverse reactions early on to avoid irreversible consequences.
Ongoing data monitoring
Data monitoring is essential in healthcare for managing and optimizing digital health records. Many patients’ lives are at stake daily; even the most minor error could have serious consequences. All patient health information must be constantly monitored, from blood pressure readings to treatment prescriptions. However, this isn’t possible in the existing healthcare infrastructure due to several reasons, such as data breaches and interoperability issues. However, blockchain provides 24/7 data availability, thus enhancing electronic health records management – another great advantage of incorporating this incredible technology in healthcare.
Enhanced clinical trials
The value of the global clinical trial market size was 38.7 billion in 2021, and in 3 years from now, it is expected to reach 52.0 billion. Several factors play a role in this growth, such as the rising demand for outsourcing R&D, the growing number of clinical trials, as well as the commercialization of drugs. Yet, the clinical trial process is complicated, involving numerous stakeholders and leading to delays and inefficiencies in the process, making clinical trials less likely to succeed. Moreover, siloes in clinical trial data make sharing information difficult. Blockchain can help solve these issues by offering a transparent and secure way to manage and store clinical trial data. By recording all the steps of the process, tracking data and spotting errors would be significantly easier.
Potential challenges in adopting blockchain in healthcare
While it’s true that blockchain has massive benefits in the healthcare industry, it’s important to point out that there are a few challenges that need to be overcome to incorporate the technology, such as:
- No support from the government. Since the government owns the healthcare sector for the most part, adopting blockchain isn’t possible without the involvement of this institution – and realistically speaking, it’s challenging to get the government’s agreement. This is a significant challenge for hospitals, as blockchain is hard to adopt due to its distributed and highly decentralized nature.
- Data immutability. Blockchain is rigid when it comes to security, as no changes can be made once the data is uploaded. This is both an advantage and disadvantage for healthcare, as blockchain offers security but has major restrictions in terms of flexibility.
- Lack of tech knowledge. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to get the hang of blockchain, given that it isn’t only a modern tech concept but also pretty complicated, especially for those who don’t have any background in using advanced software. This lack of technical knowledge can be a significant challenge when it comes to adopting blockchain in healthcare.
The promising future of blockchain in healthcare
In the years to come, it is possible to witness increased adoption of blockchain in the healthcare sector as more organizations recognize its benefits. Healthcare quality needs to improve to ensure better patient care outcomes, and as highlighted above, adopting this technology can make a considerable change to this end. However, it can only realize its full potential through continued development and investment. Overall, blockchain has a promising future in healthcare, so more organizations in the sector should explore its uses, resulting in greater industry collaboration and innovation.