Human errors, data security, pharmaceutical supply chain transparency, a lack of interoperability between databases, and the dissemination of healthcare-related information are all current difficulties in the healthcare business. This existing condition makes real-time sharing and access to healthcare data more difficult. However, the usage of blockchain and smart contracts provides a solution to these issues, and it has the potential to dramatically improve and change the healthcare business as a whole.
Smart contracts are computer protocols or if-and-then statements that are kept on a blockchain and executed when all of the preset criteria are met. Smart contracts are one of the most effective methods for transforming healthcare data management.
In this article, we will look at the role of smart contracts in today’s healthcare.
Health Data Management
The administration of health data is critical in the healthcare system. Their form and contents may help people avoid medical errors by determining the right diagnosis and therapy. Furthermore, patients’ health data had become a popular target for cybercriminals. Third parties use these data for marketing and even harmful purposes, making it critical to protect and secure them. Patients’ health data can be maintained appropriately and securely via smart contracts.
These health data will be saved on a distributed ledger thanks to smart contracts. As a result, if a patient needs to transfer from one hospital to another, he can do so without having to fill out a plethora of documents. This is due to the fact that the patient’s physician may readily access his health data and medical records over the blockchain network.
Traditional databases are still used by many hospitals and healthcare organizations. However, these may be too limiting to allow for the global dissemination of potentially life-saving information. Without blockchain and smart contracts, this information could take a long time to reach its intended destination and could be hacked.
If these health data are saved in smart contracts and distributed via the blockchain, hospitals and research institutes all around the world will have access to them. And, if widely adopted, a patient might go into any hospital in the globe for treatment and, upon showing their private key, the institution would have instant access to their information.
Furthermore, smart contracts may make this data more available and visible to both patients and providers by acting as a gatekeeper, allowing access only to those with the private key. Private keys are cryptographic methods that allow users to authorize access to their protected data to third parties. Furthermore, by merging it with blockchain technology, health data will be safeguarded against manipulation.
Drug Provenance and Integrity
Pharmaceutical businesses around the world lose billions of dollars each year due to counterfeit pharmaceuticals. To fight this, it is critical to follow the drug’s life cycle, from the origin of each ingredient to its dissemination. This is now achievable thanks to smart contracts and blockchain. To begin, all information about the chemicals and substances will be tracked, including location data. Following that, the tracking data will be added to the blockchain. The blockchain will ensure that this data is not tampered with, edited, or destroyed, allowing for non-repudiation. This means that a medicine cannot be counterfeited once it has been traced and registered.
Healthcare Billing and Insurance
Smart contracts have the potential to significantly improve the traditional insurance system by removing all unnecessary intermediaries. If patients purchase their insurance through smart contracts, all policy details are automatically stored in their profile. This information will then be stored on a blockchain.
If an insured person undergoes a covered medical procedure, the smart contract is automatically triggered. This means that the insurance company’s funds will be transferred directly to the hospital. Additionally, if the provider enters into contracts with certain drug manufacturers and agrees on specific terms, including product deliveries and pricing, blockchain and smart contracts will ensure these contracts are properly and securely managed and that they are readily available to authorized users. Thus, when all predetermines conditions are met, the smart contract will automatically trigger payment to these drug manufacturers. Consequently, in case of overpayment or dispute, the smart contract may refund the purchaser according to the agreed terms.
This automation eliminates delays and hassles and ensures that medical services are paid correctly. As a result, all transactions between parties would be accelerated, ensuring that all procedures are made on time.
The healthcare industry is well-known for being conservative and slow to adapt. This, however, may change as a result of numerous companies attempting to revolutionize the industry through mobile health applications, electronic wearables, blockchain, and smart contracts.
With the use of these technologies, especially the blockchain and smart contracts, innovative healthcare data management, drug provenance and integrity, and healthcare billing and insurance are within reach. As such, patients are prepared to see a shift in healthcare toward a more digitized and technologically advanced system.