Blockchain Technology Primed to Transform Healthcare
The healthcare industry is heavily reliant on its IT. Before 2009, there were scant traces of information technology making its way into healthcare organizations in the United States, but in 2009 there was a major shift after the 111th U.S. Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Today, IT in the health industries is prevalent, and mostly expected.
Through the advent and extensive use of electronic medical record technology, the healthcare industry has shifted from a holdout industry to one that embraces IT. Of course, with healthcare also being a very private industry, a system that stores patient and insurance data centrally and then disperses it as needed has been a major reason the healthcare industry has dealt with large-scale, high profile data leaks that expose medical and financial data for millions of patients.
With this headache affecting so many patients, healthcare IT professionals are looking for a better way to secure the sensitive data, and doing so in a construct that allows the data to be distributed quickly. If you couple this problem with the systemic issues that the healthcare sector is constantly battling (standards of care, rising costs, etc.), finding a solution that will help keep everything moving forward, keep data secure and available, and provide room for innovation has to be a priority for industry technology professionals.
Will That Innovation Come From Blockchain?
Blockchain, the emerging technology that’s best known as the technology that makes cryptocurrency possible, is now being looked at as the answer to many of the industry’s issues. Developers from all over the world are working with the distributed ledger technology to create solutions for all types of practical human problems. One of those problems is data dissemination in the healthcare industry. These developers know that doctors, insurers, and patients need access to this information, but since blockchain isn’t always an answer for some aspects of data sharing - but is great for ensuring data integrity - applications for the following solutions are being prioritized:
- Medical records - When a medical record is completed, it can then be placed (as a node) into a blockchain, providing unwavering integrity. The distributed nature of blockchain will allow the patient to preside over their medical and insurance information rather than have it hosted by their care provider.
- Consent - The development of blockchain-based applications for consent management could work to create a universal standard for such practices. Basically, if a doctor or insurer needs access to a patient’s records, they would check the blockchain to see if they have the go-ahead to access that information. Otherwise they would have to deal directly with patients or their proxies.
- Medical rewards - In what would be a first for the health insurance industry, patients that follow care plans could be given incentives through a medical reward program. This would work to effectively promote industry cost reduction through patient health.
The blockchain is one of those technologies that is in its infancy, but billions of dollars of venture capital are being spent each year trying to ascertain how to make practical solutions to use this secure technology. To learn more about blockchain or to talk to our IT professionals about how the healthcare industry handles personal information, contact CASS Tech today at (248) 538-7374.