Blockchain has taken the world by storm. While most of us identify the disruptive technology with Bitcoin, not many know that the cryptocurrency is among hundreds of applications that can change multitude of issues in the rapidly transforming and highly interconnected digital ecosystems.
“Blockchain technology holds great future potential in the healthcare sector. It helps to store the data locally. There is no need to transfer it to a centralised location. Whenever it is needed, it can be picked up using the Blockchain technology, analysed using informatics and implemented,” said Abhishek Singh, Resident Commissioner, Government of Nagaland, while speaking recently at the 7th Healthcare Leaders Forum in Delhi.
As pointed out by Singh, one the greatest applications of Blockchain can be in the area of clinical data exchange, which requires a safe and reliable system due to its sensitive nature. Blockchain comes with built-in data security, as the data is distributed and immutable and is shared peer to peer between different networked database systems.
“Blockchain technology has the potential to transform healthcare, placing the patient at the centre of the healthcare ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data. This technology could provide a new model for health information exchanges (HIE) by making electronic medical records more efficient, disintermediated, and secure. While it is not a panacea, this new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing,” says a recent white paper from Deloitte.
Blockchain can also facilitate use of data for community health, addressing the social determinants of health through multi-sector data sharing collaborations.
Health insurance claims management solutions can be another big application of Blockchain in healthcare sector — automating the majority of claim adjudication and payment processing activities. This can not only check insurance claim frauds, but also make the entire system more efficient by doing away with intermediaries and bring down the administrative costs and time.
The technology can also be implemented to check the problem of spurious drugs. A Blockchain-based system can ensure a chain-of-custody log — tracking each step of the supply chain at the individual drug level.