Blockchain technology has gained immense popularity and buzz ever since its introduction to the tech world, especially for the advancements it brought to the financial sector. Payments, exchanges, and data management have been revolutionized thanks to blockchain, which ultimately led to more innovation across multiple businesses and industries, including healthcare. But how does this technology actually work?
At its core, blockchain is a decentralized system that consists of linked blocks of data chained together by digital cryptographic signatures. Each one of these is called a ‘hash’ and is stored in shared digital ledgers, which are supported by nodes. These nodes are a network of connected processes that maintain a safe copy of the entire chain. Nodes are continuously updated and kept in-sync.
Users can access the chain of information shared on a distributed network of systems, but in order to make changes to the data, all the participants in that particular chain system have to agree to those changes. This makes blockchain impenetrable to hackers or essentially anyone who wants to try to manipulate the data, as changes to the blocks can only be made through a consensus.
Check out the diagram, courtesy of Infinity Economics, to better understand the entire process.
How does blockchain work in the healthcare industry?
Just as with other industries, blockchain is also altering and restructuring the healthcare sector with various tweaks and changes. For instance, blockchain connects various systems and databases, which generate key insights that lead to better care and diagnosis for patients. Blockchain has the potential to alter the entire medical system by placing patients at the center of its entire ecosystem.
The digital ledger also has the capability to fortify and increase privacy, security, as well as interoperability of big health data, all while providing a new model when it comes to health information exchange (HIE) by making digital medical records more efficient. According to a Global Market Insights report, blockchain technology in the healthcare market was valued at over $48.1 million in 2018 and is expected to see a 65% increase by 2025.
One of the biggest advantages of blockchain in healthcare is the complete absence of a central administrator. This automatically eliminates the costs and hassle of intermediaries, unlocking the full potential of interoperability.
The healthcare industry is all about having unlimited access to patient data while keeping the information secure and confidential, that’s why blockchain is the perfect technology for this sector. Easy access, data confidentiality, scalability and security—all wrapped in a future-proof technology.
Top 5 reasons why you should invest in blockchain tech
Even though blockchain is still considered a disruptive technology, its benefits are far-reaching. Here at SMEDIX, we put together a list of the top 5 ways blockchain is transforming the healthcare industry, and why you should consider investing in this future-ready technology Check out the list below:
1. Easy access to health data and patient records
By leveraging this decentralized system, access to patient data, laboratory results, disease records, and treatments becomes easier and more accessible. This feature benefits both doctors and patients, as all participants are able to store data in the cloud for others to access, analyze, and modify. Using this system will also prevent any chance of data loss, while creating a permanent medical history for patients. Additionally, physicians will have the ability to access a patient’s real-time health status, if the patient uses wearables, for example.
2. Interoperability and smooth health data exchange
Although sometimes a complex process, data transfer has to be fast. Blockchain not only allows easy access to health data, it speeds up data transfer and exchanges due to how the entire ledger system is set up. Precision and coordination are key in the healthcare industry, so having access to critical information is everything. Interoperability is not only limited to information exchange, it’s also about the trust among users involved in the data flow and making sure everything is happening in a secure environment.
3. Top-of-the-line cybersecurity
We’ve already established that blockchain provides heightened security thanks to the nature of its technology. Blockchain’s cryptography capabilities ensure that data is kept secure and safe, impenetrable by outside parties, and it doesn’t even allow its own users to tamper with the data unnoticed by the other members of the chain. Healthcare data, patient privacy and digital medical devices have to be kept safe at all times, and the increasing number of cyber attacks makes blockchain the most reliable technology against digital breaches.
4. Better supply chain management
The last thing any medical clinic, facility or hospital wants is to mix up their drug delivery, not have supplies delivered in time, or not have supplies delivered at all. There’s always confusion around logistics, and the bigger and more frequent the transports, errors are bound to happen. A decentralized system also eliminates issues like unauthorized access, data loss, or accidental deletion. Luckily, blockchain can provide a streamlined delivery experience for everyone, as both medical and logistics personnel can have access to the same supply chain where they can communicate. This automatically prevents mistakes and confusion around orders and transport.
5. Safe payments
Blockchain started as an ecosystem for safe payments, especially payments that involve cryptocurrency, but the technology has evolved so much since then. Nonetheless, safe payments are still a core feature of this technology. Blockchain can facilitate fast and secure payments through its encrypted ledgers, which also provide real-time verification. And the best part? No intermediaries, aka banks.
Similar to how cloud computing technology led to innovative healthcare cloud computing solutions being developed, blockchain technology will undoubtedly lead to numerous applications in the medical sector.
The advantages of blockchain technology are far-reaching. From easy access to health data, all the way to cutting-edge cyber security features and safe payment methods, this future-proof system is brimming with benefits. Its nature is still disruptive, especially for those who do not fully understand it just yet, however, once you have a clear grasp on what blockchain actually does and how it functions, you’ll have zero doubts whether or not it’s a good investment integrating it in your healthcare business.
If you’re in the middle of researching potential companies to elevate your medical business, by creating a custom medical device software or implementing a healthcare systems engineering solution for you, feel free to reach out to us. We can set up a call and walk you through the essential steps, and answer any questions you might have about what we do. Here at SMEDIX, we work with cutting-edge development tools and provide medical software solutions that can improve relationships with patients, physicians, as well as staff members.