In a rapidly evolving digital realm, the possibility of central control with technology is not a far-fetched idea anymore. With technological advancements like that of blockchain technology, the possibility of integrating blockchain into the healthcare system seems like a logical possibility.
However, one concern of this integration is that despite there being no need for a central authority to hold data with blockchain, the need for an authority does not cease to exist. The health care sector, with its sensitive information, will always need an authority that will ensure seamless compliance with standards and protocols.
The governance mechanism of any blockchain is not reliant on technology alone; it necessitates a consensus among its participants. Given the presence of various stakeholders, there will always be a necessity for a trusted entity to establish the foundational rules, or more precisely, the rules that govern rule-making.
Potential of blockchain
There is a broad scope of potential for blockchain in the healthcare industry. With blockchain technology, the accessibility, accuracy, security, and cost-efficiency of electronic health records (EHRs) can be improved. Moreover, it will enable medical researchers to collaborate, share their findings, and obtain consent for data collection and usage.
Blockchain technology in the healthcare system also means that the healthcare system data is safeguarded against ransomware and other cyber threats. This notion in itself holds the potential to improve the reliability, manageability, and cost-effectiveness of healthcare supply chains.
Understanding the Challenges in Healthcare
According to a study, while recognizing the potential benefits of blockchain technology, it is important to remember that healthcare professionals and regulatory bodies are likely to approach its adoption cautiously. This caution arises from the perception that blockchain has not yet fully lived up to its expectations, partly due to widespread adoption challenges, especially related to regulatory hurdles.
Additionally, the lack of understanding among the general public and specific users, such as patients or physicians, regarding how blockchain works, its technological features, and its data processing advantages pose a significant obstacle to its widespread adoption.
It can be anticipated that achieving all the envisioned stages of business transformation through blockchain may take considerable time due to various challenges, including organizational, social, and implementation issues like security concerns and governance considerations.
Moreover, it is integral to remember that the overall confusion surrounding blockchain’s legal implications and government regulations further complicates its adoption. Currently, research is ongoing to facilitate the growth and accelerated adoption of blockchain technology by addressing these barriers.
Implementation of Blockchain Technology in healthcare
In the healthcare industry, Electronic health records (EHRs) have become a fundamental aspect of patient care. These offer a comprehensive, precise, and easily accessible record of an individual’s medical history. However, safeguarding sensitive personal data within EHRs becomes more complex as health information systems (HIS) become more intricate. This is an area where blockchain technology holds great promise in healthcare.
EHRs store patient health data digitally, originating from multiple healthcare facilities. Typically, the healthcare provider that creates the record retains primary access rights. The drawbacks associated with individual EHRs are that these lack completeness and are inconsistently managed by the organization responsible, resulting in a fragmented view of a patient’s medical history for healthcare providers.
Other challenges related to achieving comprehensive and accessible healthcare histories through EHRs include the interoperability of HISs and establishing secure access control through authentication processes. Blockchain addresses these limitations by connecting EHRs and distributing ownership of records among all stakeholders, in addition to offering enhanced security and authentication features.
One practical application of blockchain in EHR management is exemplified by Action-EHR, a patient-centric system designed for sharing data regarding cancer radiation treatments. Blockchain’s ability to meticulously log and automatically encrypt all healthcare transactions enables widespread availability of anonymized medical record data.
Action-EHR is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), facilitating seamless clinical data transfers between healthcare facilities for patients. This system effectively overcomes many of the limitations associated with health information exchanges (HIEs) by providing heightened security and more efficient data storage. Consequently, patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers can access the necessary information safely, efficiently, and at reduced costs.
All in all, the potential of blockchain technology in the healthcare industry is immense. One can expect that blockchain technology will be integrated into the healthcare system to facilitate seamless patient record management.