29 Jan Can blockchain technology fix fundamental problems in the healthcare industry?
When it comes to the healthcare industry, most individuals have mixed feelings about the efficiency and the practicality of some of the practices which are currently in place. This is especially true when looking at the superfluous spending and the increasing premiums as a result of the spending to subsidise costs. I think that it is generally safe to say that most would support an optimisation of the industry as a whole (whether you are on the right or the left side of the aisle). And while the political cantor may seem to be in a standstill and thereby the advancement or decline in legislative healthcare reform may not be forthcoming, this does not mean that there are not solutions within sight. One such means of optimisation and cost reduction would be implementing blockchain technology into the mainstream of the healthcare industry.
Securing the information
Time and time again, hackers have infiltrated the records of the healthcare market. Millions of individuals personal data, records, credit cards, etc. have been accessed with a single line of code into a single entity. The blockchain technology theoretically eliminates any chance for such a breech. Consider. With the standard security system, the information is processed through the healthcare provider and is subject to a few passwords, maybe as little as one. When the password and authorisation from the sole individual is hacked then the information can be copied and distributed. This can be seen in instances such as SSM Health, Blue Cross/Blue Sheild, and Anthem.
Blockchain technology is based upon encryption and thereby poses a substantially lower risk of hacking. Because the information would be presented on a blockchain and the information could be regulated by multiple authoritative signature requirements, only information pertaining to a sole individual could be obtained, and only if all the permissions were in place. Should the blockchain create just one block (multiple would be made but for the sake of this let’s use one) with 3 signatures for every person in just the state of New York, you would need to hack 59.25 million access hacks to access all the files (based off of the near 19 million population in 2016). Now, multiply this by several blocks for each individual based upon that person’s medical needs and history, and you will see that a substantial breach would be practically impossible.
Fewer Errors lower costs
One of the reasons contributing to the constant increase in premiums for healthcare as well as the associated cost of medicine and treatment is (a) that patients use emergency facilities for non-emergency purposes, thereby overloading the staff and necessitating the need to offset the cost of running the ER to the cost of care and (b) that exploratory tests and treatments are conducted on patients whose records cannot be obtained quickly, thereby driving up the cost of treatment, and (c) the abuse of prescriptions and medications due to a lack of a secure and reliable system to monitor such distribution.
Blockchain technology eliminates these issues in part by (a) keeping a record of patient in-house treatments to help quickly identify those who are prone to abuse the core functionality of the ER, (b) give adequate information in the time that it takes to access an email about a potential existing problem. Rather than relying upon the patient to give a diagnostic or hoping that the medical records correspond to the healthcare provider’s medical records system, the Blockchain provides adequate information across the board which would in term reduce the cost of prescriptions and the abuse thereof as well.
Investments without interference
Perhaps, one of the larger benefits of blockchain investment in the healthcare industry is that it is a market which could afford a trillion dollars or more worth of investment without having those investors directly associated with a particular company or practice. The investor is putting capital into the financial part of the healthcare market but not into any sole entity. As a result, the medical procession can advance in the ways in which are best suited for the public with little to no hindrances from shareholders and investors as to the route in which development, advancement, and implementation of new technology and procedures should progress. Theoretically, should the investment market drive up the profits of the healthcare industry, the cost of providing such care to the populace would decrease. This would, in turn, give patients more incentive to use their primary care physicians than the emergency care services (it has long been argued that if the overall cost of healthcare were to reduce and people could afford to go to the doctor they would do so rather than seek Charity Care Grants from Hospitals because they cannot afford such care).
Is blockchain implementation realistic?
There have already been a few companies which have transitioned to using b blockchain data to secure records and information. While the blockchain has not reached a national or global level at this point in time, it is an option which has investors and medical professionals talking. Should the technology as well as the bitcoin become more stable in the public investment sector, you could see a quick and dramatic spike in its merger into the healthcare industry and other public service sectors.
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