Blockchain: The Next Healthcare Breakthrough?

Blockchain: The Next Healthcare Breakthrough

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many cracks in our healthcare system. If we take the “glass-half-full” approach, we can appreciate how the pandemic exposed our industry-wide weaknesses, so we can get to work making efficient and effective improvements for future public health crises. One healthcare game-changer that’s emerging as the dust begins to settle, is Blockchain technology. While Blockchain is still in its early stages of development and implementation, (think “the internet” in the late 1990s) you can expect to hear more about strides in Blockchain technology. It’s already transforming the financial world, and health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been advocating the benefits of this modernization tool for years. The application of Blockchain in healthcare represents the potential to reduce costs, streamline business processes, and improve access to information across diverse stakeholders working toward a common goal: patient-centered care.

Wait, what is Blockchain again?

Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. A Blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions and it is ideal for delivering information because it provides immediate, shared, and completely transparent information that can only be accessed by permission network members. It is also the underlying technology behind the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin.

What are examples of how it can impact healthcare?

  • Identity Management – Patients, Providers
  • Medical Record Management
  • Medicaid Management Information Systems
  • Benefits Administration
  • Data Security
  • Reimbursement
  • Clinical Trial Management
  • Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

What are some important factors to consider when implementing Blockchain technology?

Reducing Costs: While organizations can expect some added upfront technology costs that are common in the adoption of any new technology, Blockchain can streamline the supply chain and administrative processes in healthcare, which may decrease costs.

Increasing Patient Control: Blockchain technology may have the potential to empower patients with greater control of their data and privacy. For example, the technology could enable patients’ access to their medical records across providers.

Improve Transparency/Security: While Blockchain is transparent it is also private, concealing the identity of any individual with complex and secure codes that can protect the sensitivity of medical data. The decentralized nature of the technology also allows patients, doctors, and healthcare providers to share the same information quickly and safely.

Security Vulnerabilities: While the technology provides resilience to certain types of attacks, nothing is ever entirely secure. It is still susceptible to zero-day attacks and technical bugs. Also, because this technology is almost always accessed by people, it is susceptible to one of the greatest risks in information technology: social engineering.

So, where does New York stand with this technology?

This past March, The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) organized a techsprint (a sort of extended hackathon with participation by both industry and regulators) to learn how to become better at regulating crypto companies. That the techsprint occurred at all is a signal of the evolution of the crypto industry, said Sandra Ro, the CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council and one of the event’s judges. Ro said it was significant that NYDFS is not only looking at how it can parse information it collects but also how it can integrate technologies like Blockchain into its supervisory process. “I think it is a testament to how far the crypto community has come from an industry standpoint to work with regulators and legislators and various bodies, to solve for critical problems in order for the industry to grow and scale, and become mainstream within regulation and guidelines,” Ro said.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the healthcare industry is constantly evolving and improving, and putting the patient in control with Blockchain technology would also make switching between healthcare providers a far simpler process than presently while ensuring that any information provided is complete and verifiably accurate. Reflecting on the pandemic, this could be incredibly transformative for future illness prevention, vaccination campaigns, wellness programs, and health training. At RBT, we understand the diverse and complicated world of healthcare, and we understand the first step to a brighter financial future is having important conversations about industry-specific topics that matter to you. Feel free to contact our team today, we hope to help your team succeed.

Sources: CDC, Coindesk, NYDFS, BuiltIn