Blockchain in healthcare: Building a better foundation

Blockchain has been disrupting industries across the globe. Here, we take a look at how blockchain is being used in healthcare

Blockchain has been disrupting industries across the globe, helping to improve and streamline a number of outdated processes. Here, we take a look at how blockchain technology is being used to benefit the healthcare sector.

Medical records

Traditionally, medical records have always involved an element of paperwork. While much of the process has shifted to digital, occasionally computer systems can fail. In these moments, paperwork is still essential.

However, as blockchain technology is distributed across a number of computers and has no central controlling entity, a blockchain cannot fail like centralised computer systems can.

Each node (computer device) supporting the network has a copy of the blockchain. Even if one node were to fail, the rest would still support the network.

Since a blockchain can be either public or private, you could create a private blockchain to securely log all medical records.

Once the records are on the blockchain, the integrity of them will remain intact since they cannot be altered. Not only does this assist the medical industry, it could also benefit legal cases which rely on accurate medical records.

Peer-to-peer appointments

Another benefit of bringing the blockchain revolution to the medical industry is that doctors and patients alike can facilitate peer-to-peer appointments.

You would no longer need to phone or go online to register an appointment.

Instead, you could ask for an appoint directly. For example, if a smart contract were in place, a patient could request to see a doctor, and the doctor would then receive the request and confirm their availability.

This would save a lot of time in terms of admin. Employees would not need to schedule appointments or deal with patients contacting them for one.

While it is true this could add to the workload of doctors, it would enable them to take control of their schedule.

It’s also worth noting that millions of pounds are wasted every year because of missed medical appointments. If doctors are able to schedule appointments ad hoc, the number of missed appointments would fall as they could fill holes in their schedule instantaneously.

People who can no longer make an appointment could state as much on the blockchain. Not only would this help how much money is being wasted by people who do not turn up and do not inform their medical practice, it also helps free up space for people who really need it.

Countering false prescriptions

People falsely claiming prescriptions when they do not need them is nothing new.

This is another issue blockchain can help solve. If medical records were secured on a blockchain, doctors would have unfettered access to them.

So, if somebody is trying to claim they need a certain pharmaceutical when they do not, the doctor can check their records. While your local GP already has your records, other practices do not. If a person visits a practice that does not hold that person’s records, and the GP cannot disprove the patient’s claims, they would likely prescribe the requested medicine.

However, with blockchain, patients’ records would be available across the country. There wouldn’t be a need to have files sent over to different practices when a patient moves home, for example.

This is because for the records to first appear on the blockchain, they must be verified. It would become increasingly harder for people to obtain false prescriptions, especially when medical records on the blockchain cannot be altered.

Tracking the supply chain

Another prominent issue in healthcare is counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

A few years ago, there was a scandal in China centred on baby formula which was counterfeit, and the issue led to nearly 300,000 babies falling ill, with at least six reportedly dying.

This issue is one that blockchain, if used correctly, could sincerely aid.

Blockchain technology has the ability to track supply chains from the sourcing of ingredients and minerals all the way through to distribution.

In doing so, companies can watch over the chain to ensure the entire process is both legal and ethical.

Many major global companies are already using blockchain technology to track their supply chains.

Discover more on how Ford and WWF Australia have begun test implementations of blockchain to ensure their supply chains are ethical.



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.

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