Blockchain May Have a Future in Healthcare

Blockchain May Have a Future in Healthcare

September 05, 2019 - Arminco Inc.

Blockchain was introduced back in 1991 and since then, it has been used to timestamp digital documents. Blockchain applications may have a future in the drug and device supply chain, medical staff credentialing and electronic health records

What is a blockchain?
Blockchain, as it sounds, is a list of blocks that contain different information and this information can be altered in chronological order. Each block contains a relevant data called a hash, and the hash of the previous block. There are different types of blocks; for example, a bitcoin block includes information about a bitcoin transaction.

If anyone were to attempt to make changes to this hash, the hash of that block would no longer match with the previous blocks, and therefore this action will be blocked. Blockchains have a built-in mechanism that makes recalculating hashes a very hard process.

Also, blockchains are distributed and it is managed by a network whereby every member has access to the blocks and they can confirm the validity of the blockchain. If all members confirm the validity, only then new information can be added to the block. This system allows fake blocks to be identified.

How it can be used with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA)
In order to have more control over drug distribution, the DSCSA can track, detect and remove misbranded or potentially harmful drugs from the supply chain. This system uses a feature similar to blockchain, where stakeholders have to verify certain information about the drugs. Once developed, an electronic system will be able to track drugs as they move through the supply chain in the US.

How it can be used for medical staff credentialing
Traditionally, medical staff credentialing is a time-consuming process that can involve regular postal letters, fax, approved official website, or a well-documented telephone call. With blockchain, all information about a practitioner can be stored in a single place. This type of approach would save a lot of time and money for the healthcare system.

How it can be used for electronic health records
The sensitive nature of health data, patient record matching, and health information exchange makes blockchain a perfect candidate for EHR. Each block would represent a single patient and the information can be seen or modified by authorized intelligence. If this system were to be used nationwide, the owner of each block could travel with this information and use it anywhere

Concerns about using blockchain in the healthcare industry
Some healthcare organizations hesitate on storing highly sensitive healthcare data in blocks and believe it may be exploitable. Any new technology would need time to develop and fit into the industry, but there seems to be a concerted effort into incorporating blockchain technology into the healthcare industry. We will likely see success stories in the next 2 years.

So as you can see the use of Blockchain may be new but the need for this type of secure data system has been needed for many decades. It’s here to stay and will most likely only be improved upon in the near future. It’s time to embrace the present and prepare for the future


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