Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that has the potential to transform several industries. The Healthcare industry is one of them. The technology has been gaining prominence since 2008 – the time of the introduction of bitcoin to the world.

Bitcoin and blockchain

Bitcoin and blockchain are sometimes used interchangeably. However, the two are completely different. Blockchain is a technology underlying Bitcoin that gives it the decentralized functionality it bears. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is a full-fledged cryptocurrency.    

Blockchain, in simple words, is a decentralized database with no central authority. With added features like immutability, decentralization, and security blockchain technology helps businesses add transparency to business processes and make them more reliable. Financial services, banking, retail, supply chain, and other major industry sectors have seen phenomenal transformation after the application of the technology in various spheres of the respective industries. 

Consequently, the blockchain industry has seen tremendous growth and is expected to grow further stronger.

Blockchain in healthcare   

Blockchain technology in the healthcare industry is expected to reach a worth of $500 million by 2022.  

Drug tracking

One of the major applications of blockchain technology in the healthcare industry is to track drugs. Further, it can be used in the adjudication of insurance and claims, credentialing of healthcare providers, drug and device supply chains, personal health records and health data exchanges as well as research and clinical trials.

Blockchain can be used as a static registry to verify the authenticity and legitimacy of products.

The Malaysian government, for instance, is already underway to kickstart vaccine-related tracking based on blockchain technology as a proof-of-concept by 2021.  The vaccine tracking will start with the COVID-19 vaccine but will continue to include other drugs in Malaysia.

The drug tracking starts with the serialization of medicine and tracks medicine from the manufacturer all the way down to the medical practitioner giving the drug and the individual receiving it. 

Further, this system can be used to provide a “Digital Health Certificate” that adheres to international standards like the CommonPass and the Rockefeller Foundation, facilitating travel and cross-border movement.

Medical health record

Blockchain technology also has a significant role to play a role in improving access to patient medical records.

Medical institutions that store patients’ medical records lack interoperability. This means medical data stored by one hospital can’t be accessed by others. This creates a problem for patients who have to carry their records while moving to another institution. Loss and misplacement of records come as a result of this practice. 

A blockchain-based database that can be accessed universally by all – patients, medical staff, and insurance companies—in a secure and authenticated fashion solves the problem. Access to this database can be granted by patients using smart contracts.

Other than making access to medical records convenient and giving control of health data in the hands of the individual, this practice acts as a disincentive against repeated investigations and delays in providing timely care.

This system can further help to improve medical insurance claims.

Patients deal with several doctors, clinics, and hospitals. This means that bits and pieces of medical history exist in separate places. A commonplace for medical records will allow faster access for insurance companies as well as help to reduce frauds.  

Final word

Blockchain technology offers unmatchable features that promise to solve some challenging problems, thereby making the healthcare industry more efficient. Drug tracking and medical health record are the top use-cases of blockchain in the healthcare industry. As we move forward, blockchain technology is expected to have more use-cases. 

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