Blockchain technology has fast become one of the tech concept giants of today. Anyone with basic digital wherewithal has heard it at least a dozen times, though they might not always understand why that is. Or what that is.
As the emergence of bitcoin and other digital cryptocurrencies started, the significance of the blockchain subsequently became equally more recognized for its ability to keep the transactions secure and to allow the transactions to exist in the first place. Though we often associate blockchain technology with the cryptocurrencies and transactions, it’s used far exceed that of the digital currency alone.
The blockchain technology exists as a means of digital information being stored within one large, public, collective database. In the most simple of terms, it’s just that- a collection of information.
According to Investopedia, this collection of information includes a few basic areas of information regarding a transaction. Typically, when a transaction occurs through blockchain, the transaction is stored in a “block”, with the time and date of purchase, the dollar amount, and an encoded digital signature of the purchaser and seller. Each transaction has a unique signature that cannot be replicated.
This information is saved, but the anonymity behind the digital code means the transaction cannot be specifically traced, and thus ensures privacy for both. At the same time, it’s secure because the blocks cannot be deleted and are nearly impossible to change.
Because of the basic ability to store information and maintain security and privacy, the healthcare industry has been more and more driven towards using blockchain technology in practice.
So how exactly is the healthcare industry using blockchain technology today?
Blockchain technology provides a clear and evident data exchange of patient info between doctors.
People move, people change doctors, people get referrals, people lose records, people seek new treatments. There are plenty of reasons for why an individual is going to need to change doctors. But, a crucial step to diagnosis and treatment is the collection of medical records.
Blockchain technology that is used to store patient information means that it can be easier for a doctor to share the information from one hospital or facility to the next. Patient information becomes a “permanent, digital record in the form of an open, immutable ledger”, according to Digital Authority Partners. Doctors can access a patient’s medical records in one secure, convenient location.
What an individual has been treated for, what’s been ruled out, what prescriptions they might have, etc.can all be accessed by their doctor. This allows for better diagnoses, more thorough and complete treatment, and clarity of a patient’s condition and symptoms.
Blockchain technology is a secure data-storage technology, which ensures patient privacy.
Patient privacy is obviously one of the most important components of medical record-keeping. Personal medical histories should remain private, rather than saved on paper files in an easily breakable file folder locked with a key. Or, saved on some old Dell pc with a hackable code.
Because blockchain technology is not a storage device that can be accessed by just anyone, patient data and files remain safe and secure.
Blockchain technology can help with hindering the dangerously high amount of data breaches within the medical profession.
2018 had some of the largest data breaches of patient medical records ever seen.
HIPPA Journal reports that just between the 9 years from 2009 to 2018, over 189 million medical records were stolen or exposed. In 2015, Anthem alone had close to 80 million patients’ records hacked.
With the security of blockchain technology, insurance companies and healthcare providers can maintain the security of their patient data, thus saving themselves from public relations disasters, lawsuits, damage control, and software and data retrievals.
When the public feels their private information remains safe, companies have less to combat, financially or other!
Blockchain can secure the keeping and tracking of records without the danger of alterations or changes.
As was described with the blockchain technology description, the data that is stored in a block cannot be altered, changed, or deleted. Thus, a patient who has their medical record stored on the blockchain, can have information or blocks added, but cannot have their data deleted or changed.
When it comes to medical records, it’s crucial that information not be deleted or changed, in order to preserve what treatments or diagnoses have occurred in the past. This allows for a clearer means of information exchange between medical professionals in different facilities or in different fields.
Overdiagnoses, prescribing multiple medications, and other errors that can happen as a result of poor record-keeping and tracking cost not only money, but reputation for healthcare professionals.
Blockchain can help provide consistency and efficiency with finances and payments.
Blockchain technology can be used to help keep hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies far more consistent and efficient, especially with their communication to one another. Many healthcare facilities and industries have noticed inconsistencies between their own billing and record-keeping when they lack complete data and the ability to share that data.
Since the blockchain prescribes an individual digital code to each individual transactions, even when transactions are similar or the same, record-keeping becomes far more complete and thorough.
Rather than potentially lose money because of the information exchange, healthcare facilities are better able to track transactions from patients, hospitals, and insurance providers, and accounting departments can track payments.
Final Thoughts: Keeping a Crucial Industry Secure and Up to Date
Blockchain technology offers far more than what many industries currently interpret it to have an impact on. More than just cryptocurrencies, it provides a means of safe, secure, open data storing and transactions.
In a day and age of hacking, lack of privacy, and the identity theft, the solutions provided by blockchain technology make it a worthwhile investment.
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