We have spoken quite a bit about supply chains and how our blockchain-powered solutions will be able to cut out the opportunity for counterfeit medications by providing real time transparent data and allows medications to be monitored and tracked from the moment the exist.
Clearly, blockchain is an amazing new technology. Aside from cryptocurrencies and supply chains, I am going to talk now about some of the other opportunities for blockchain technology to be utilized within the healthcare field.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain technology is defined by InnovateMedTec as “a distributed system which records and stores transaction records. Blockchain more specifically is defined as ‘…a shared, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked transaction blocks and stored in a digital ledger.’”
Basically, instead of having a database or a server located somewhere saving and hoarding all information it has access to, blockchain allows for digital recordkeeping by having data stored on a large network of devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, each acting as a “node” or “block,” or a piece of equipment attached to a shared network. This is called a “distributed” network, as opposed to a centralized or even decentralized one.
This diagram is an illustration of network comparisons between centralized, decentralized, and distributed (blockchain) networks. (Petre, 2016b)
All of the data is shared publicly to anyone with permission to access it and a complete record of all transactions are available for all to see – but only those with access. In order to access the blockchain network, it requires the network to verify you. Every participant has a private key only known to them and a public key which is the visible identifier. These two keys are linked cryptographically and requires both keys in order to work and find information on the blockchain. Because of this level of verification and privacy, the blockchain is able to have an unbroken audit trail of all interactions on the entire chain.
Blockchain and Healthcare
You may be wondering how this is relevant to the healthcare industry as a whole.
As you already know, blockchain is utilized in tracing and tracking medications with every single transaction from manufacturers to distributors to retailers to consumers. But there are more ways that blockchain technology could be used within healthcare to make patient information more secure!
- Blockchain technology could be used to improve the authentication of patient health records and especially on improving and strengthening the protocols for sharing patient records. The blockchain would hold a patient’s medical history, their identifier, and an encrypted link to the records, which would each be timestamped. All records would stay together and the patient retains control over the permissions for access.
- All stored records are encrypted and digitally signed and the blockchain can store all types of data, including lab results and reports, x-rays, images, and more.
- Using smart contracts could allow patients and healthcare organizations and hospitals to share information quickly and easily from anywhere. Patients can use their smartphones to assign access permissions of their information and provide a public key to needed parties.
- Blockchain can automate claim adjudication and payment processing via smart contracts.
- Clinical trials can become even safer and more tamper-proof using blockchain technology, as altering or modifying the data anonymously becomes impossible.
- Cybersecurity: According to the Protenus Breach Barometer report, there were a total of 450 health data breaches in 2016, affecting over 27 million patients. Forbes reports that “Blockchain-enabled solutions have the potential to bridge the gaps of device data interoperability while ensuring security, privacy, and reliability around IoMT use cases.”
As you can see, blockchain technology has many uses both in and outside of the healthcare industry. IDLogiq continues to refine our technology to make sure people all over the world are receiving safe and real medications.