The advancement in technology has always surprised you. The moment you start getting attuned to a new technologically equipped device, you get to read the headlines of a new version of the same device just after a couple of days. After the computer, the internet became popular. And now the new sensation is Blockchain. Blockchain is said to be the ‘next internet’ of the 21st century. And let us know how blockchain in healthcare industry is important!
Blockchain has now become the buzzword of the tech world. It is going to rule the world in the coming decades.
Blockchain is a decentralized technology with public digital ledger used to document transactions across several computers so that any record does not get altered, without altering the subsequent blocks. It is called blockchain because the blocks or records are verified and joined with the previous block to form a chain.
Let’s now discuss the benefits of blockchain
Blockchain is a big deal because it can solve the digital challenges like:
Transparency: It offers transparency as every transaction is recorded and verified publicly.
Immutability: The data entered cannot be altered by anyone’s intervention.
Security: The data is stored across every system instead of one single centralized database and that is why it increases security and keeps it hack-proof.
Minimized transaction expenses: Blockchain does not involve third-parties, not even banks. It just allows peer-to-peer transactions, resulting in a reduction in transaction expenses.
Innovation: It provides a huge platform for new, growing, and innovative business models that can compete with conventional business models.
Blockchain in Healthcare
According to peerbits.com, in 2017, the technology made $34.47 million in the healthcare ecosystem. It will see a steep rise in revenue of nearly $1415.59 million in 2024. The growth in CAGR will be approximately 70.45% from 2018- 2024.
Problems in Healthcare
Patient Data – Data related to patients can be altered which can create a big problem. It requires thorough protection. Stealing of such data can lead to illegal publication without the patient’s consent and consequently a series of blackmailing.
Forged medication: Medication is forged as frequently as any other type of product. Unlike other products, the forged treatment not only show no effect but can also show side effect or harm the health of the patient. According to the World Health Organisation, 10% of all medicines are forged. It is mostly found in North America, Asia, and Europe.
Secure clinical trial: Clinical testing is arranged so that the effectiveness of certain medication as well as its side effects get identified. The tests generally take up to a few years and demand huge investments.
A typical clinical trial consists of three stages. The first one involves testing medicines on a small group of people. The second one entails testing on a larger group, and on the last stage, the medications are distributed among the biggest group. The final step involves the new drug application (NDA) approval. Only a small percentage of the drugs pass all these stages.
Considering such a low percentage and the amount of money required in the entire process, it is very likely that some dishonest manufacturers can forge the data. This is done to minimize the required period and a dedicated budget. In some cases, such affairs can lead to incorrect medical notes in terms of the patient’s condition after the application of a certain medication.
Therefore, potential buyers do not suspect to what catastrophic side effects the application of such medicines can lead. They can cause ailments in patients and even immediate hospitalization and fatal results.
Supply of medical drugs traceability: The pharmaceutical supply chain is not so secure.
After the first stage of the drug manufacturing and production process, the stocks are transferred to the wholesale distributors who transfer them to the retail companies that eventually sell them to the customers. This is where a huge risk of counterfeit drugs being involved easily.
Substandard medication or counterfeit medical drugs are the biggest problems the pharmaceutical industries have to face daily. Reports from the Health Research Funding Organisation  discloses that the counterfeit drug market is equivalent to $200 billion and these forged medicines being sold on the internet account for approximately $75 billion.
Issues existing in the current healthcare sector are unlimited. The prime need of the hour is a technically advanced system.
In spite of having devices like computers and smartphones at every corner of healthcare, we are still unable to secure, exchange, and analyze data seamlessly. Hence, the healthcare industry today not only needs a technologically advanced system rather it also needs a system that is smooth, transparent, secure, economically efficient, and easily handled.
Blockchain has the potential to overcome the challenges the healthcare industries are facing from time to time. All the obstacles involved would be eliminated with the introduction of blockchain in the healthcare system.
Let’s see what blockchain has in store for us.
Patient Data Management: Data of a patient can be at big risk. Data security, interoperability, and share-ability are the biggest challenges to date. To overcome this, the blockchain platform helps the data to be stored in anonymized form, and names are not disclosed in these cases. Solve.Care is one of these platforms which is using blockchain technology. SOLVE CARE makes sure that patients have full control of their medical records and decide who can get access to them and when.
Secure Healthcare Setups: The current healthcare system runs through one single central database. This database is managed by a single body in the organizations. With such an approach, the point of failure also reaches one single point. In such cases, if a hacker tries to attack the system, he/she can access the entire database at one go and would put the patients as well as the organization in a big problem.
Blockchain can solve this problem of the organization. A big organization with several actors with the different levels of access on a blockchain system having encryption within the blocks would save organizations from external harm and attacks. If a blockchain network is established properly in a healthcare Organisation, it would prevent ransom threats as well as other issues like data corruption or hardware failure.
Payments through cryptocurrencies: Another appealing advantage of Blockchain in healthcare is the use of cryptocurrencies as payments instead of cash or fiat money. Cash medical practices are still in prevalence however, the health care costs are not defined as such. According to https://engineerbabu.com/blog/blockchain-in-healthcare-opportunities-challenges-and-applications/, even today 5-10% cases account for fraud in terms of money and unperformed billing services. In the US alone, a forgery of $30 million was found in the year 2016.
Through the implementation of blockchain systems and applications in place, the probability of providing the right and proper solutions, and eliminating the frauds has increased. Bill processing automation would remove the third parties involved from the chain and ultimately decrease the overall administrative expenses.
Drug traceability: Counterfeiting of drugs along with forged drugs in the supply chain leads to a major loss of billions of dollars every year.
As per engineerbabu.com, counterfeiting of drugs causes the deaths of hundreds of people taking the wrong medicine. Distribution of counterfeit drugs is one of the serious problems in the pharmaceutical ecosystem.
The usage of private blockchain technology in which the control over the data is in the hands of a central authority would make much sense in these cases. When such companies would be given access to the specific drug blockchain, they would have proof that the drugs manufactured or produced by them are authentic. Besides, the attribute of data transparency in a blockchain system can aid in finding the entire path of origin, hence, helping in eradicating the circulation of forged drugs.
Clinical Trials: To conduct a clinical trial, large amounts of data sets are needed. The researchers focus on these data and conduct regular tests under different circumstances to make reports, statistics, and effectiveness ratio. Depending on these reports, the data is analyzed and further decisions are taken.
But, most of the pharmaceutical companies today have an interest in documenting the results that could assure certain profits for their firms. For such cases, the researchers often hide or alter their collected data and information in order to modify the result.
Blockchain technology will add to the authenticity of clinical trials and outcomes. Such documents can be preserved as smart contracts on the blockchain acting as the digital thumbprints. The catalog of these records will decrease audit costs, files review, frauds, and lost document issues. The blockchain will also keep supply chain management of the pharma and accountability of medical drug tracking.
Presently, the rate of penetration of blockchain in the healthcare sector is still slow. Blockchain technology could do wonders if it gets implemented in the major portion of the healthcare systems. Though the implementation of the technology is not a cakewalk, its potential will be realized only if the industry is ready to accept it. The technology is still evolving and will become better day by day. It is for sure that it is going to leave commendable footprints in the coming future not only in the healthcare space but also in other areas.
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