Blockchain technology has traditionally been associated with the cryptocurrency sector. However, an increasing number of industries are exploring the potential applications that this tech has to offer. The world of medicine is no exception to this and the global healthcare blockchain market is forecast to reach $5.61 billion by 2025.
What Are Blockchains?
In essence, a blockchain is a digital record of transactions. Some key characteristics of the blockchain include:
- Encryption: This is a security feature that ensures that only authorised users can access the blockchain.
- Decentralised: There is no central administrator. Instead, records are spread across a network of replicated databases that are constantly in sync.
- Tamper-Proof: All records are time and date stamped to discourage tampering and to encourage transparency and improved data integrity.
Who within the healthcare sector could use the blockchain?
- Healthcare providers (such as hospitals, clinics, and medical professionals) could use blockchains to manage patient records.
- Health insurance companiescould use the blockchain to smooth interactions between healthcare providers and policyholders.
- Companies operating within the MedTech and pharmaceutical industries could use the blockchain to enhance their supply chain operations.
How blockchain improves interoperability
Interoperability refers to the ability to integrate different information systems to ensure that the relevant parties can access and exchange information in a smooth manner across organisational, regional and national boundaries. Information management has long been a pain-point for healthcare providers and it swallows up an inordinate amount of time and resources. The introduction of blockchain technology could allow for better information sharing and collaboration, thereby accelerating the treatment process and improving patient outcomes.
Blockchain also gives patients more control over their medical data. It will also enable them to decide which information they wish to share with healthcare providers. The democratisation of data will allow patients to play a more active part in their own healthcare.
If you are keen to discover more about the blockchain, then you should read the below infographic from Study Medicine Europe. This guide offers an easy-to-understand explainer of this technology and includes insights on how this tech could be used to address major pain-points within the healthcare sector.