Healthcare spending in the UK is budgeted at a staggering £151.9 billion for 2019. This year marks the start of a 10-year funding plan to improve the British healthcare system through a £20 billion-a-year funding allocation. Blockchain in healthcare could reduce this number significantly and allow for more affordable and accessible medical services.
Implementing blockchain technology in the healthcare system could provide many benefits for patients, professionals, and the companies that operate in the industry.
Among these advantages are lower costs, less bureaucracy from outdated procedures, and reduced paper-based documentation. And that’s just the start.
Here are five ways that blockchain could change the healthcare system.
1) A more efficient way to process medical data
Medical data is sensitive. Doctors and insurers need secure networks to communicate and divulge information about patients in order to comply with patients’ rights and the rules on data privacy.
Blockchain in healthcare could mean increased data security. At the same time, details about patients and their medical history could be shared more easily. This would benefit hospitals, doctors, patients, and insurers.
Blockchain technology can store all patients’ records in one place. This enables each user to manage their own medical records. Doctors could also access and update the information using a permit from the patient. An insurer could also gain access to the information of interest and release funds accordingly.
2) Patients could own their medical data
Blockchain can also provide patients with full data ownership over their medical records. At the moment, patients don’t have complete control over this data since there’s a risk of losing vital information involving public health.
On the blockchain, however, every record is traceable. This means that no one could make any changes to anyone’s medical history or add or remove details – not even the owner – without people knowing.
People could own their data but they couldn’t invent a fake medical history, for example. This reduces risks of deleted information, missing vaccinations, unknown medical histories, and false medication claims.
3) Blockchain in healthcare can introduce smart contracts
One of the strongest use cases for blockchain technology lies in smart contracts. The security of the network makes these digital agreements suitable for any domain, and healthcare is no exception.
If you used smart contracts to buy health insurance, for example, all the details in the policy would be automatically linked to your patient profile, which is already stored on the blockchain.
When the insuree goes through a medical procedure covered by the policy, this automatically triggers the smart contract. This means that money from the insurance company’s account automatically goes to the hospital. This allows for correct and swift payment of medical services. Such a procedure would speed up transactions between all parties.
Smart contracts could reduce many inefficiencies in the system. They could also eliminate the stress involved in having to file lengthy insurance claim forms.
4) Blockchain can minimise fraud
The UK loses an average of £5 billion a year due to fraud in the healthcare system. This is mostly caused by a lack of effective communication between medical services providers, patients, and the organisations that pay for the procedures.
Besides the increased interoperability that comes with implementing blockchain in healthcare, this new technology could help reduce fraud through increased transparency.
Doctors could no longer create ghost patients or produce false prescriptions since every procedure would need to be linked to an existing patient already registered on the blockchain.
Moreover, the chances of claiming for non-provided services are significantly reduced. It becomes more complicated to provide fake medical documentation.
5) Technology reduces the need for paperwork
Blockchain in healthcare could reduce the number of paper-based documents required when filing insurance claim forms. Today, patients with private care need to keep receipts and store all medical records, make copies, and send them to the insurance company.
On the other end, when the insurer receives all the documents, it has to make more copies, send them from one office to another for evaluation and approval, then generate more reports to release payment.
Blockchain could eliminate all this hassle, together with a large pile of paper-based documentation!
Blockchain could change healthcare insurance
As in many other industries, blockchain technology could transform healthcare into a more effective system. The end result would be beneficial for both public healthcare as well as private medical service providers and, eventually, patients.
With all the information in one safe place and reduced costs for processing medical data, blockchain could add transparency and increased security in an industry where partners rarely trust each other.