Recently we have disclosed the opportunities that are brought by blockchain technology in logistics industry and this time we would like to reveal the benefits it has for the healthcare sector. Since this sphere has a direct impact on the quality of our lives, it is one of the first to be improved by digital transformation and to apply the latest technologies like blockchain.
Despite gaining popularity mainly through the financial sphere, blockchain technology has a range of important and impressive opportunities for the healthcare industry covering everything from research and logistics to relations between practitioners and their patients.
How Blockchain Works in Healthcare
Before we move to the benefits of blockchain, let’s first see how it works. Blockchain is a decentralized network of nodes storing the same information. When someone wants to change the existing data in one node, all the others should approve it. That is why one can hardly falsify the information within a blockchain-based system, which makes blockchain a perfect technology for securing sensitive data.
Teaming up with other innovative technologies like IoT, AI, and Big Data blockchain becomes a powerful and effective tool for improving business processes. Let’s now have a look at the healthcare spheres that can be improved with the help of blockchain.
Clinical research and trial
The new medicine will not reach pharmacy shelves and hospitals without clinical trials, which, in turn, requires substantial prior research. Both these crucial moments — trial and research — need the existing information to be accurate and relevant. And that is where blockchain can be of help.
In order to keep the worlds’ database up-to-date and to help other researchers, the companies have to share their drug trial data with each other. But it can mean the destruction of privacy which is also a critically important thing for the healthcare industry. Likely, the blockchain technology is here to help to share crucial data still keeping it private and safe.
Speaking of the financial side, blockchain technology can bring significant cost savings to pharmaceutical businesses. Firstly, it is a great tool for keeping all the important and relevant records in one place and in a secure manner. It is especially relevant and important for managing budget because bookkeeping gets harder according to the complexity and duration of the trial, so a robust blockchain-based solution will save the day.
Blockchain also allows having a single database of patients to accelerate the search for candidates that would perfectly meet the requirements of a particular trial. Keeping in mind that only 1 out of 10 tested drug gets to the market, it is really important for the pharma business to make trials as cost-effective as possible.
Blockchain enables transparency of the whole way the drug makes from the production to the pharmacy shelves. With the help of IoT, blockchain allows tracking traffic congestion, the route of the cargo, its speed, and even conditions (like temperature and humidity inside the vehicle). It provides the opportunity to plan procurement effectively to avoid cargo delays and shortages of a particular drug in hospitals, pharmacies, and other healthcare institutions.
Secondly, medicines might be stolen or changed along the way. The pharmaceutical sphere suffers a lot from counterfeit drugs: they not only decrease pharma companies’ revenues but also put patients’ health at risk.
The implementation of the blockchain-based software solutions will help to secure the logistics data preventing it from any unregulated changes. That will enhance trust between different parties involved in drug procurement and prevent illegal manipulations with documents, payments, and medicines themselves.
Regulating Financial Relationship
It is all about smart contracts — the digitized self-executed agreements. They can be described as a program that performs determined actions after certain conditions are met. For example, if such a contract is signed between pharma and logistics companies, the latest will automatically get the payment for shipment after the cargo reaches its final destination.
Such a contract enhances the trust between partners and what is more important automatizes a lot of paperwork needed for the payment, which saves time and money as well as minimizes the risk of mistakes.
Smart contracts can work for regulating both types of relationship: B2B and B2C. They can be signed between clinics, logistics and insurance companies as well as between a patient and a healthcare provider.
Health Record Management
The potential of blockchain allows empowering a robust system for patients’ data management that stores all the medical history of a particular person: diagnoses, examination results, previous treatment regimens, and even the measurements taken by personal smart devices. Using this system a doctor can easily get all the required information to make more accurate diagnoses and prescriptions. Since all the data is stored in a single blockchain-based system, it is securely protected from being lost and changed.
An important thing to mention is that the patients will have an opportunity to decide who can or cannot get access to their medical information. So, any third parties will not be able to get sensitive data and use it for their profit (for example, an insurance company will not get the information about some of your latest health problems and to use it for raising its rates).
Since blockchain-based system eliminates the possibility of information fraud, it becomes a trustworthy database. It can be used as a credential verification system for doctors when a medical institution hires a new physician. Checking the candidate’s name in such a system will guarantee that they have relevant experience and the required licenses. This will ensure that no charlatans allowed to work with patients putting their health and lives at risk.
The blockchain technology can also show the information about the drugs’ origin to ensure that they are of good quality and provided by the registered company that is licensed to produce medicines.
The Bottom Line
The blockchain technology and healthcare make a great promising match: one of them deals with an array of sensitive information and the other one knows how to protect it and enable secure data sharing.
At SCAND, we have a skilled team of software developers who have several years of experience in creating blockchain-based solutions. Combining this experience with our expertise in healthcare IT software development we are capable of developing robust and effective solutions for your business tasks.