In the past, the terms ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ were used interchangeably, specifically in the context of Bitcoin. Nevertheless, this viewpoint is too narrow since it overlooks the comprehensive potential of the distributed ledger technology. Fortunately, the recognition of the broader implications of this groundbreaking technology is expanding, and several industry leaders are now grasping the significance of blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology is an impressive framework with diverse applications beyond finance. Although financial transactions are a fundamental aspect of blockchain technology, it is crucial to acknowledge that they need not be limited to monetary transactions alone. The use of cryptographic encryption allows for secure and private transfer of any type of data, in a manner that is transparent to all concerned parties. At present, various industries including media, advertising, and manufacturing are already implementing this technology.
Although blockchain technology has yet to be widely adopted in the healthcare sector, it holds great potential as a valuable tool for healthcare providers. Blockchain could be particularly useful in managing patient data and facilitating research data, both of which require the secure handling of sensitive information. With the distributed ledger capability of blockchain technology, healthcare providers could enhance the security of the communication and storage of patient data, as well as ensure the precision of research data. These goals could be realized by utilizing secure and immutable records, accessible to authorized personnel only. Furthermore, blockchain’s decentralized nature would enable healthcare providers to access and share data in a more swift and efficient manner.
Possible Use Cases of Blockchain in Healthcare
It is evident that blockchain technology has the potential to transform the healthcare industry by offering a trustworthy and secure payment system for medical services. Nevertheless, its capabilities go further than this. Blockchain has the ability to be implemented in diverse contexts, including:
Establishing a Global Health Information System
Recently, it has become more prevalent for patients to remain loyal to their primary healthcare provider or medical facility, largely due to the medical records associated with their account. To receive top-quality care, it is crucial for any alternative healthcare provider to have access to these records. Although technology is already being implemented to facilitate this process, the integration of blockchain could considerably amplify the efficiency of the system.
By establishing an interconnected network of medical records from across the globe, medical practitioners would have immediate access to their patients’ medical history. The most remarkable aspect of this network is that it has the potential to be utilized worldwide. This signifies that any doctor or healthcare facility could retrieve a patient’s records, which would be immensely useful in the event of a medical emergency while travelling abroad.
Due to the key characteristic of blockchain technology – the immutability of its records and the unavailability of the records without the appropriate security keys- all patient information will be kept secure and only accessible to authorized medical professionals worldwide.
Improved Pharmaceutical Research
The potential exists for blockchain technology to transform the procedure for developing pharmaceuticals. By establishing a secure academic network that permits participants worldwide to share information on new tests and discoveries, the collaboration between research teams can be substantially strengthened. This might result in a considerable advancement in the development of new pharmaceuticals, consequently increasing their effectiveness and accessibility to those who require them.
The ongoing global pandemic has motivated numerous organizations and companies worldwide to strive towards vaccine development, which is evident. By employing blockchain technology, sharing of crucial information between these entities could be simplified, resulting in a potentially expedited development of a vaccine, ultimately saving lives. Hence, it becomes essential to consider the implications of this resource in this specific context.
Additionally, blockchain technology can be utilized to verify existence, authenticate documents, and guard against intellectual property theft. This is because any data exchanged within the blockchain can be meticulously traced back to its rightful owner.
Streamlining Medication Tracking
The complete scale of drug counterfeiting is difficult to measure owing to its illegal nature; however, it is a substantial issue worldwide, particularly in nations with weaker law enforcement. According to the World Health Organization, in some underdeveloped countries, one in ten medical items is either substandard or counterfeit.
It is evident that the existence of substandard and counterfeit medications poses a colossal risk to public health, with the possibility of fatal consequences. While blockchain technology may not offer a total solution to this matter, it could minimize it by using its inherent authentication and traceability abilities to authenticate the legitimacy of all pharmaceuticals in circulation.
Because of the intricacy of medical supplies and the challenge in overseeing their distribution chain, it is beyond the manufacturer’s capacity to ensure their legitimacy. However, patients can be assured that they can confirm the authenticity of the medications they intend to purchase by entering a number on the relevant website.
Introduction of AI
In theory, the potential advantages that blockchain technology can offer to the healthcare sector could be heightened by integrating it with other innovative technological progress. Renowned investor Tim Draper believes that combining blockchain technology and artificial intelligence could create a potent medical platform with a diverse range of applications.
Incorporating AI algorithms can offer a comprehensive overview of the blockchain, allowing thorough analysis and auditing of all of the data it encompasses. This could be advantageous in terms of monitoring a patient’s medical history, in addition to their bloodwork and genetic data, to identify any potential warning signs. This could have a positive impact on the efficacy of medical treatments, and possibly even save lives.
An Emerging Alliance
Even though healthcare is among the most digitally advanced industries, the full potential of blockchain technology has not yet been entirely realized. Although there are several applications that utilize the blockchain, and suggestions to broaden its employment within the healthcare sector, the industry is approaching its potential applications with caution.
It is apparent that there are several factors to consider when examining the integration of blockchain technology within the healthcare sector. Firstly, the technology itself is still in its nascent stages and is subject to constant evolution. Additionally, the lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework is an obstacle that must be resolved for the technology to be adopted on a broad scale. This is especially critical in the healthcare sector, which involves various stakeholders who must adhere to regulations. Therefore, it is crucial to establish a robust regulatory framework before blockchain technology can be universally adopted.
Despite the absence of concrete evidence to support the idea that blockchain technology could be advantageous to the healthcare industry, we should not overlook the potential opportunities that may arise from further exploration. It is possible that blockchain technology could become more extensively utilized and advance beyond its current position as a niche technology within the cryptocurrency market. As an alternative, blockchain could furnish healthcare professionals with the tools to strengthen the quality and efficiency of their services, thus ultimately resulting in the preservation of more lives.