By now, everybody at least heard about blockchain technology. And while it was initially used for digital currency, this type of technology that can distribute information, but not copy it, has an incredible potential in the healthcare industry.
Blockchain technology is the backbone of a new, more intelligent way of sharing information. This new technology makes the information easy to share, flexible and transparent. But how it tech reshaping the healthcare industry, more exactly?
Create a Universal Patient Database
Even in the tech age, hospitals and healthcare institutions keep their data and information stored locally. This makes it incredibly difficult for healthcare practitioners in different establishments to share vital information, when necessary. Each establishment has a different way to store their data and information, and this doesn’t help at all in the process. Only in Boston, there are more than 26 different systems that store data. To each, their own language, in other words. When it comes to accessing critical information from a medical facility to another, things can get extremely complicated, a 2017 MIT Technology Review claims. This results in a complete lack of transparency between institutions, which might endanger patient’s lives. Medical error caused by the lack of transparent and appropriate information and access to each patient’s lives might lead to death. And the issue expands to the financial sphere as well. These complicated, inefficient and completely opaque systems cost immense amounts of money, money that could be used for other purposes, including cutting-edge medical devices and technologies that could save the lives of thousands of patients in each medical facility.
Blockchain powered clinical information exchange could be the answer in many healthcare intuitions’ case. Electronic medical records (EMR) could become easier to access and incredibly secure with this new healthcare information exchange model. While the present model is based on overlapping functions and positions, the new one could help medical institutions become more efficient from costs’ point of view, but also as organizations. Blockchain technology has the potential to eliminate redundant information in this sector’s case. Another great prospect offered by this type of technology is that all the separate information exchange systems that are currently used by healthcare institutions, will be eliminated. Medical practitioners will soon be able to access relevant information that could save patient’s lives.
Having easy access to a patient’s full health history is a valuable ability that blockchain technology might empower medical practitioners and researchers as well to perform a better medical act.
Better Drug and Therapy Development
The powers that blockchain technology has in the healthcare sector don’t stop at transparent and efficient healthcare information exchange. Research and drug development are two sensitive areas that could be completely reshaped by blockchain technology. While these areas of activity of the healthcare industry are time-consuming and most importantly, costly. While drug research and development are costly, this can be easily observed in the prices with which new drugs and therapies enter the marketplace. In many patient’s cases, the prices are a real burden in their well-being and healing process.
Regardless, the blockchain technology holds an immense potential when it comes to decreasing the costs and raising the rates of success of new drug development. Almost 20% of the US pharmaceutical revenue is currently going to research and drug development. The rates of success are incredibly small, compared to the investments made. Blockchain technology has the potential to make patient records more accessible to researchers, which might significantly cut the costs in the field.
Counterfeit pharmaceutical products are another issue that makes companies in the industry lose big figures at the end of each year. New “seal has been broken” technologies could be developed with the help of blockchain technology, which in return might reduce the rates at which these products are counterfeit. Counterfeit product identification by the buyer will also be made possible with the same technology’s help.
Clinical trial and medical records exchange is not positively seen by many institutions. While many are reluctant to share with other facilities their developments, but this lack of trust and collaboration between medical institutions and research centres puts an immense burden on potential breakthroughs in the medical field. Blockchain could help this sphere by offering a centralized information, stored in a simple, transparent and accessible form.
Internet of Things and the Medical Sector
Each year, the global Internet of Things (IoT) market is steadily increasing and reaching an unexpected worth. But its applications go beyond helping people put together shopping lists and making salon appointments. It has an incredible potential in the medical industry as well and could be successfully integrated with multiple types of medical equipment and not only.
- At-home patient monitorization – wearables are already on an ascending trend, and doctors could easily track their patient’s health remotely through those. In wearable’s case, personal injury lawyers could use such technology in some of their injury cases, including whiplash claims. Wearables allow doctors to act when necessary, based on the information received from them.
- Predictive maintenance – fixing medical issues before their occurrence is a main goal of the healthcare sector, and predictive maintenance of vital medical devices is a goal that can currently be accomplished with ease.
- Equipment usage tracking – in this case, medical professionals can enhance their patient’s well-being by keeping a close eye on equipment usage and making it available for each patient, when mandatory.
Initially seen as a breakthrough in the virtual currency sphere, blockchain technology can easily find its way in more practical industries. The medical and healthcare sector could reach new development capabilities with the help of this technology. New therapies and drugs could soon be developed thanks to this technology, patient files and the latest research papers could make it possible for medical experts to offer a more transparent and efficient medical act.
Soon, it may be possible to create a global patient database, which will help institutions all over the world offer better medical services and create better therapies for each patient in their care.