BLOCKCHAINS ROLE IN HEALTHCARE TRANSFORMATION
Blockchain technology has many advantages for healthcare IT because it is based on open-source software, open application programming interfaces (APIs), and off-the-shelf hardware. The architecture for this technology has components that facilitate faster, as well as seamless interoperability between systems when care is exercised in the design of the APIs and data management applications. Other advantages include rapid scalability based on demand, more sustainable and reliable systems which aid in disaster recovery, data encryption and cryptography technologies, and built-in fault tolerance – all perfect ingredients for an enduring healthcare IT experience.
Apart from this superior level of technical advantage, patients, healthcare providers, payers and other related individuals in the field, can choose from a varied range of application choices and select options that conform to their specific requirements. This can be done by allowing patients, researchers in the medical field, and the other people involved in the health care community to access the same shared data source on a timely basis ensuring accurate and comprehensive data related to the patient’s health. The integrity of the data is uncompromised; however, what is too often compromised outside of the Blockchain platforms is the use of patient data for profit without the patient’s knowledge or permission. This practice must come to a swift end.
Information is collected from a wide variety of health data sources like mobile and patient wearables, documents, EMRs and so on. Through the Blockchain and flexibility that can be designed into the distributed ledgers, it is also possible to accommodate unforeseen data in the future not only making these data structures scalable, but extensible.
Here are a few of the current Blockchain applications in healthcare.
Medical Data Management
Medical data management is a major advantage of Blockchain technology. By enabling health IT systems with the technology, all the existing challenges that the healthcare industry like security, reliability, privacy and even data interoperability are met with, and rendered non-existent. It gives timely access to data that healthcare professionals can use to make crucial diagnosis and deliver appropriate treatments. In fact, healthcare data becomes more easily managed, while saving money for payers, patients, and even the providers.
Everyone related to the patient-care community can have their own local copy of the dataset, and when one person wishes to make changes to the data, they will have to go through a series of cryptographic criteria to be eligible enough to make changes. Once the edits are made, it would be turned into a ‘block’, approved and locked in place. The other members in the community will have to approve of the changes before they can be turned into blocks.
If the changes are made in a patient’s health record, then the patient can gain complete control on who can make changes in the data. The consumer/patient/caregiver can monitor the edits made, such as new diagnosis, limit people who can see sensitive medical conditions like mental health data, and other parameters (setting different parameters for different kinds of data).
Revenue Cycle Management – Billing and Claims
Billing and Claims Management is the process of filing and processing medical claims related to patient diagnoses, treatments and medications is collected and billed to the appropriate payer. Many institutions have fallen victim to data breaches where patient files are compromised leading to medical insurance fraud, theft, and larceny. Through Blockchain technology, it is possible to thwart a good majority of these instances simply because the technology itself hinges on complex successions of data transactions. Greater auditability and traceability would help increase trust in the process, not to mention the safe and manageable revenue cycle management that companies can follow.
Snooping in medical research is a serious issue that can be controlled successfully through Blockchain technology. Collaboration between the researchers and research participants in various innovative fields can be successfully initiated, thus paving the way for techniques that will do away with traditional methods of research and clinical care. This is because Blockchain can let the researchers reach a considerable level of historical context and sanctity of the data throughout the clinical process while ensuring the anonymity of the consumer.
In the medical research, the ‘proof of date’ is the main requirement; so Blockchain technology is ushering in a paradigm shift. Timestamp is the main feature of each transaction made through Blockchain, and this information will be publicly transparent. The core functionalities of the technology include traceability and historicity of data, and users possessing the time-stamped data will become its owners. Frauds and errors in the clinical trial records can be significantly reduced by adopting Blockchain-enabled, time-stamped immutable records of all the trials, experiments, protocols, and results.
With the Internet of Things, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), and connected devices, security of systems is another major concern; however, with every problem comes a solution and Blockchain provides that solution. The technology enables the benefits of connected devices, while at the same time securely encrypting the data and keeping it private – in the control of the consumer.
More and more electronic data is being searched and grabbed across the internet. Health data security must remain a top priority for all organizations and protection of the privacy of the individual must be paramount. Verifying transactions by consensus of all the parties involved, authenticating and validating the data against an authoritative ledger of similar other events in the past is another major advantage of the technology.
From the technology standpoint, another advantage is that it is virtually impossible to change the data, and this is very, very good from the patient record standpoint. The fact is that you have multiple checkpoints, so the entire data filling and exchanging is done in ultimate secrecy and security while patients have better control over their own data. They can even decide who has access to their records, and who can make changes to it.
More to come next week in Part 3.