What are the Benefits of Blockchain in Healthcare?
The healthcare industry can greatly benefit from blockchain technology. Over the past 30 years, the healthcare industry has been affected by the advent of centralized data systems, health data regulation, and a mandate to focus on digitizing medical data in partnership with different electronic medical record (EMR) service providers. The bulk of repositories processing information owned by healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and other stakeholders in the health and medical ecosystem, do not interact with one another. The lack of interoperability among most systems containing longitudinal health data at both the individual (patient) and population (public health) levels explains systemic barriers often perceived in the following situations:
- When patients wish to consult or seek medical services from other healthcare providers
- When the administrators of a clinical trial want to validate the vast medical data of its participants
- When pharmaceutical companies seek to ensure the authenticity of drugs circulating global markets
Because of the inability to securely share data and the siloed management of medical records, patients spend precious time and resources seeking redundant medical care (e.g. executing duplicate blood tests or physicals). In emergencies, physicians and other health professionals providing care may not have full visibility over a patient’s medical history (e.g. explicit documentation highlighting patient allergies, prior or withstanding medical conditions, administration of controlled substances, etc.) in which case they risk improper treatment.
In drug traceability, secure supply chain tracking is necessary to prevent the distribution of counterfeit or illicit drugs. Counterfeit drugs pose risks when active ingredients are altered or in unauthorized proportions. Such risks may compromise the safety and success of treatment or lend to addiction and drug dependence. They also carry the risks of unknown side-effects, some of which may be fatal.
In order to address illegal transport or unauthorized production of controlled substances, blockchain technology presents the opportunity to securely track, indicate chronology, and highlight identifying data (makeup and composition) of substances in an immutable record. Enterprise Ethereum provides smart contracts and systems interoperability that will revolutionize the industry.
What are the Blockchain Use Cases in Healthcare?
Blockchain technology can help healthcare experts and the overall healthcare industry to improve performance, patient data transparency, tracking, and accountability, as well as reduce costs. ConsenSys Solutions works with a range of blockchain products that can be tailored to address various healthcare applications, including the following:
- Secure management of electronic health records (EHRs)
- Patient consent management
- Drug traceability
- Data security in clinical trials
- Incentivization through micropayments
How will blockchain secure management of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?
Enterprise Ethereum enables secure and structured data sharing among the medical community through decentralized databases. These structures work to protect patient data and privacy, allow doctors visibility over their patients’ medical histories, and empower researchers to use shared data to propel scientific progress.
How will blockchain impact patient consent management?
Blockchain solutions enable structured data ownership through privacy and permission layers built onto Ethereum. While patients are unable to change or delete specific medical information input by doctors onto their profiles, they can control access by granting full or partial visibility to various stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. For example, patients may share their full records with a medical specialist but may choose to share only non-identifiable data with scientific research firms or other larger healthcare organizations.
How will blockchain impact drug traceability?
Drug supply chain management becomes more secure and accountable with transparency, immutability, and interoperability introduced by Enterprise Ethereum. The interoperability between networks ensures that different blockchain applications and systems along the supply chain can interact coherently. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies can register their products on the blockchain and track movement from the source point to end consumer.
How will blockchain impact data security in clinical trials?
Enterprise Ethereum reduces the risk of data fraud with its consensus mechanism and decentralized structure that guards against hack or manipulation. Documents may be given proof-of-existence and verification-of-authenticity on the blockchain. A majority of nodes then reaches consensus to approve new transactions and prevent modification of the data. This protects the integrity of data, promotes trustworthy trial results, and encourages collaboration among the research community.
How will blockchain impact incentivization through micropayments?
Smart contracts on Enterprise Ethereum enable the introduction of micropayments to incentivize specific patient behavior. These contracts can be programmed to release rewards to patients for following a certain treatment plan or sharing their data for clinical research.