The healthcare industry is becoming one of the booming industries, and the commencement of blockchain could transform the way the industry operates. Blockchain technology can be defined as a digital ledger system used to record and store data securely.
In this edition, let’s explore the potential and advancement of blockchain in healthcare and how this emerging technology is becoming an exciting trans-formative tool to provide data security, privacy, and interoperability in healthcare systems.
The Impact Of Blockchain Technology On Data Security
Data security is a prime concern in the health sector because of the sensitive nature of patient data. Blockchain technology provides various features that can enhance data security:
- Decentralization: Traditional healthcare systems store sensitive data in centralized servers, making them easily accessible to hackers or breaches. But, in blockchain technology networks, data is stored in a distributed ledger, which increases security.
- Immutability: Once data is stored on a blockchain, it is nearly impossible to delete or change it without taking permission from the network. This guarantees the integrity of patient data and prevents unauthorized usage.
- Encryption: Information recorded on blockchain technology is mostly encrypted, integrating an extra protection layer into patient data. The keys of encryption are accessed by only authorized persons, which decreases the unauthorized access risk.
- Permissioned Access: Through smart contracts, blockchain technology allows authorized users to control access to the data of patients. Other authorized parties and healthcare providers can access some patient records only if they have permission, ensuring that the privacy of patients is maintained.
How Blockchain Technology Helps in Interoperability
- Interoperability: Interoperability is the capability of various systems to share, communicate, and utilize information smoothly. Blockchain technology can help interoperability in the healthcare sector in the following ways:
- Standardization: The blockchain networks can define standard record formats and protocols to share data. This leads to stable data sharing among various systems and healthcare providers.
- Incorporated patient records: A patient record based on blockchain technology can develop a patient’s comprehensive medical history, treatment process, and all prescriptions. This data can be accessed only by authorized persons across various healthcare providers, which improves coordination.
- Smart Contracts: On blockchain technology, smart contracts can automate as well as streamline different healthcare procedures. For instance, scheduling appointments, processing insurance claims, and consent management can be managed more effectively through self-executing smart contracts.
- Consent Management: Blockchain technology can help patients handle their consent preferences for data sharing. Patients are able to control whom they want to give access to their medical history and under what situation, enhancing trust and compliance of patients with secured data sharing protocols.
Challenges and Considerations
While the healthcare industry is befitted immensely by blockchain technology, there are some challenges also. One of those challenges is the requirement to ensure regulatory compliance. In the US, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) set up a high standard to protect the data of patients. The usage of blockchain must fit the standards of HIPPA.
The next challenge is building a highly secured and distributed platform that can support sensitive patient data exchange. This needs robust systems and protocols that can give protection to the patient data while offering access to authorized users. Furthermore, the patient data must be kept in a way that is compliant and secure with different federal and state standards.
Lastly, developing systems that can exchange data seamlessly between different stakeholders is challenging. For instance, the patient’s medical record must be securely shared between an insurance company, healthcare provider, and other relevant parties. This needs an interoperability platform that can be accessed by all stakeholders.
Despite all these challenges, blockchain technology has the capability to improve healthcare data security significantly, diminish expenses, and streamline the process of insurance claims. Moreover, we can say that blockchain helps to build an outstanding ecosystem that can help to exchange patient data securely among all stakeholders. The creation of a distributed, secured platform is the key to unlock these benefits. The healthcare industry could benefit greatly from the blockchain technology introduction with the placement of the right system. While blockchain technology helps to improve data security as well as interoperability in the healthcare sector, many challenges and considerations exist:
- Scalability: Blockchain technology networks can face scalability challenges with increased data and transaction volume. Solutions like layer2 scaling solutions and off-chain processing are being explored to solve the issues.
- Regulatory Compliance: The healthcare industry is becoming heavily regulated, and applying blockchain technology solutions must fit existing data privacy protocols (e.g., HIPAA, GDPR) while ensuring data security.
- Integration: Incorporating blockchain technology with existing healthcare systems can be completed and needs proper planning to prevent interruptions in workflows.
- Energy Consumption: A few blockchain networks, especially which are based on proof-of-work, take up a particular amount of energy. So, this environmental impact should be considered when adopting any blockchain solutions.
In the healthcare industry, blockchain technology trends has great potential to fix data security issues and interoperability challenges by offering a decentralized, secure, and standardized platform to exchange data. While implementing the technology, it needs to overcome regulatory, technical, and practical challenges. The benefits of decreased data breaches, improved patient care, and enhanced data sharing make this blockchain a promising technology to implement in the healthcare industry.