Blockchain in Healthcare – Is it possible?

Blockchain in Healthcare – Is it possible?

When we talk about blockchain, the first thing that comes to our minds is financial environment or to be more precise – cryptocurrency. But there are

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When we talk about blockchain, the first thing that comes to our minds is financial environment or to be more precise – cryptocurrency. But there are so many other industries and businesses, which the blockchain could be applied to. Of course, it would be easier for private companies than for systems, regulated by the government. Such system is, for example, healthcare.

Healthcare is something essential for our everyday. That is why it daily generates a huge amount of transactions, paperwork, records and so on. Computers have been recently coming in Healthcare but we can still see paper-based documentation, which very often leads to mistakes, losses of documents and records, even frauds. This is the first stage, where the implementation of blockchain could be useful. It could contribute to faster and more secure payments. The risk of tampering and misappropriations would be decreased and audits would be facilitated. According to estimates of FBI only in the US the frauds in healthcare industry amounts yearly to $ 80 billion.

The topic about patients’ privacy should not be underestimated, especially when it comes to medicine and healthcare. As the cryptography is an essential part of the blockchain, it could be applied to healthcare system for preventing of patients’ data exposure or losses.

All this sounds as a good idea for improving the work of healthcare but there is an obstacle which must be overcome – the goverment’s regulation. Healthcare industry develops slow, because every innovation, no matter if it comes to a technology, to a gadget or just to approach, is a subject of government’s approval. For example, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) did not support software vendors to work in the area of records and document management. As a result the features of Google Docs and Dropbox in document management were overrated, which in turn led to over-reliance on well known paper documents.

The adherents of the idea of blockchain’s implementation encounter one difficulty more. Many stakeholders participate in the healthcare system – doctors, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, hospitals, insurance companies and organizations, health funds and so on. Applying the blockchain in healthcare requires the agreement of all participants, which is a hard task. Some countries, like Canada for example, rely on regional autonomy. But this will make the process of implementation of blockchain even harder. Maybe a blockchain-technology centralized by the government would function better. But what happens if an American needs a treatment in Europe?

The idea of implementing blockchain in the healthcare system is really good one. It would facilitate lots of complex administrative procedures. But since the blockchain is a cutting-edge technology, which is still unknown in areas outside of finance, it needs some “corrections” in order to be suitable for using in healthcare industry.