Blockchain application in the healthcare

September 10, 2019

There are many reasons why people are unhappy with traditional healthcare system.

First, it’s complicated – currently, medical institutions may be unwilling to share your records out of fear of losing a patient, or just for no reason at all.

Second, it’s slow – when you come to a new clinic or hospital, they often make you fill the forms and take the tests you filled and took in your previous clinic. It’s explicable – the doctors there have no access to your data, and they have to collect it anew to assess your condition and prescribe a treatment. It causes unnecessary delay, very unpleasant when you need urgent help.

Third, the existing healthcare industry is far from transparent. Not only clinics don’t talk to each other, but patients themselves tend to lie about their condition. Doctors are never sure how accurately their patients have been following the prescribed treatment plan, or if they have been taking their medicines and supplements, or eating healthily. Insurance companies regularly deal with patients who lie about the nature or extent of their traumas to get more money, or clinics who seek to get paid for medically unnecessary services, including costly surgeries. This non-transparent environment is a breeding ground for frauds of all kinds, and it results in a huge money loss, annually.

Also, there is the problem of supply chain security which is of major importance when we talk about the pharma industry. Counterfeit drugs is a big problem, as useless often means harmful here. Fake drugs may contain wrong ingredients, or in wrong proportions, and it’s dangerous – especially when your life depends on the right medication.

Now, when we have outlined the major problems, let’s see how they can be cured with blockchain solutions, developed for the healthcare sector.

Starting with supply chain, a private and centralized blockchain system (in this case everything should be controlled by a central entity) can make it much more secure and reliable, eliminating stolen drugs. Not only it would save billions of dollars to the pharma corporations (who make us cover this loss by raising retail prices of their products), but it would also prevent many deaths caused by counterfeit drugs. Every package will be trackable from lab to store, meaning it cannot be of an unknown origin.

As for the lack of transparency, blockchain can be a good solution here, too. If all the patient-related data is stored in a blockchain network, it will eliminate a lot of miscommunication and also let patients control their medical information. Right now such info can be used by clinics at their discretion, and shared with third parties. In a blockchain network, a patient can control the access to his/her personal info, as well as the extent of sharing it. Say, you might want to pass your anonymized medical data to a research team who studies the effect of a new medicine, and get paid for it.

A blockchain environment, storing all your records in one place, makes sure all the medical specialists who deal with you will have an instant access to the verified information about your previous conditions and methods of treatment used. It means a more personalized approach to every patient and a customized (and more effective) treatment. Also, there are health-related startups that suggest using wearables that would assess a patient’s condition on a daily basis, and automatically send this data to the physician in charge. The patients, who follow their plan and take all the prescribed pills, may be later rewarded with the platform tokens.

Medical frauds or data manipulations, that are very common now, will be greatly reduced by the blockchain tech integration. Telling lies will make no sense, as all the correct data will be easily available to a new doctor, or accurately registered and delivered by wearables. Insurance frauds will become less easy and frequent if the companies deal with verified information only.

Finally, we would like to mention another important advantage blockchain may contribute to the healthcare sector. This advantage is related to the financial application of the technology.

It’s no secret that the most severe healthcare problems are associated with the third world countries, depending greatly on the work of global charities. Right now these charities have difficulty accepting cross-border donations – they have to pay disproportionately big fees to the banks and lose a part of money in the process of multiple currency exchange. As a result, less money reach the beneficiaries, and the procedure itself takes too much time.
In a blockchain-based charity platform, we eliminate both problems due to P2P donation model that does not include intermediaries. Direct crypto transactions will deliver money to those it is meant for – in a fast, traceable and really cheap manner.

Bearing in mind the above, the blockchain technology might be the future of healthcare. It should also be noted that this sector is really rich, meaning the developers whose blockchain initiatives looks perspective to the decision makers, are likely to be very generously sponsored.

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