Blockchain technology is used in other areas aside from the cryptocurrency space. Blockchain in healthcare is used for improving the security of transactions, removing manual inefficiencies and improving the overall quality of patient care.
Over the past decade, there has been at least one data breach of healthcare records. This is because computer systems in healthcare are largely outdated.
This is just one of the many reasons why healthcare organizations should investigate the use of blockchain technology. There are far more advantages for its use than you may think.
This article will show you 3 things you didn’t know about blockchain in healthcare and why any healthcare or pharma company should start implementing it.
The pharma and healthcare industries have similar problems; one of which is preventing counterfeit medicines hitting the market.
One of the reasons why it occurs in the first place is because there is a general lack of security platforms that track where each drug or treatment has come from.
Current legacy systems are localized so they cannot communicate and exchange information with each other. This means companies have no idea what’s happening with their products at any time during the drug’s lifecycle.
Counterfeit medicines are a big problem for another reason – profits.
They lead to a loss in revenue for the manufacturing companies and the organizations that sell them. If healthcare companies can’t make money, they can’t continue to produce the drugs in the first place that actually save lives.
This ultimately leads to the consumer also losing out on the healthcare they need.
Blockchain in healthcare can overcome this problem.
According to Healthcare Weekly, the blockchain spans across multiple networks and is decentralized. Each and every transaction made in the blockchain is tracked and recorded. Everything is legitimate.
This means data cannot be manipulated by a fraudster.
The data itself will be available to show where the drug has come from, making it very difficult for a foreign or fraudulent product to enter the market, bringing costs down and patients getting the treatments they need.
PR Newswire had this to say on the matter:
“The most prominent beneficiaries of the [blockchain] technology will be the pharmaceutical companies, which lose approximately $200 billion to counterfeit drugs each year. By enabling complete visibility and transparency throughout the drug supply chain, blockchain will allow tracking of drugs to their point of origin and thus, help to eliminate falsified medication, reducing revenue loss by up to $43 billion annually for pharma companies.”
Blockchain technology is being used in other industries right now to prevent fraud. There’s no reason why blockchain in healthcare cannot follow suit.
As has already been discussed, blockchain technology records every transaction. It must be validated through the chain before the transaction can be completed.
Clinical trials require this methodology. Patient data must be transparent and validated so healthcare professionals can locate ideal patients for a particular treatment. Better efficiency leads to more successful trials which result in getting drugs to market quicker.
For example, Boehringer Ingelheim has partnered with IBM to use blockchain technology as part of its own clinical trials process. They are testing if decentralized frameworks can keep the integrity of the data intact, as well as automated trial processes and reduce costs.
Uli Brödl, VP of medical and regulatory affairs for Boehringer’s Canadian division said they “‘want to understand the value proposition of blockchain technology, and how that value would generally be applicable to many disease areas.”
While Boehringer has worked on using blockchain in their own drug supply chain, it was their first in clinical trials research.
At the end of the day, clinical trials are all about testing treatments before releasing them to the world. But unless trials use the right patients to test these drugs, they are not worth the time or investment.
It’s vital that healthcare companies access the correct patient data for clinical trials. The current way to access patient data is through audit trails. However, blockchain in healthcare would mean that these internal processes would drastically improve, along with patient data privacy.
And with privacy comes regulations about who can access this data. Regulators must be sure that sensitive data is secure and available to only those that need to see or use it.
Fortunately, blockchain can be of service. It has the flexibility to provide as much access as needed or hide and protect sensitive data depending on the organization’s preferences.
It’s a lot of work trying to find people to use for drug trials. Current methods require mapping out a patient’s ID into their EHR data. This can lead to mistakes and unfortunately, good candidates can be missed.
Healthcare organizations must enter all this information manually and in some cases, across more than just one EHR system.
Obviously, this isn’t great or very efficient but that’s why blockchain in healthcare becomes incredibly useful.
Blockchain technology speeds up the process by automatically replicating patient data to each EHR. This means that duplicate records cannot be created. All data including patient ID and the record keeping system ID is stored.
From here, once a medical professional enters details of the clinical trial into the system to find suitable patients, these ID numbers will match up with the required test. This process is automated, resulting in faster and more accurate results.
And remember, the blockchain prevents errors in data since every transaction that occurs within the blockchain must be validated before continuing.
This means doctors and physicians can be sure they get the right people every time and at a much faster rate.
These 3 things you didn’t know about blockchain in healthcare can help save more lives and improve the industry as a whole. Not only will data be more secure than ever, but data exchange and reliability of results will also greatly benefit from its implementation. It’s only a matter of time until it becomes an industry standard.
This article was contributed by Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling
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