The rapid uptake of digitization in healthcare has led to the generation of massive electronic records about patients. Such growth poses unprecedented demands for healthcare data protection while in use and exchange. The rise of blockchain technology as a responsible and transparent mechanism to store and distribute data is paving the way for new potentials of solving serious data privacy, security and integrity issues in healthcare.
Blockchain technology is distributed database of records of all the transactions that have been executed and shared among participants in the blockchain network. Transaction on blockchain is verified by consensus. And entered information cannot be deleted or erased. It is a decentralized system means it is not controlled by any central authority or it does not require third party to record transactions. Blockchain technology is highly secure as it is based on cryptography that ensures once the data has been recorded in the blockchain cannot be altered without consensus from the network participants. This makes it difficult for hackers to hack the data on the blockchain.
There are public blockchains and private blockchains. Public blockchains are open for anyone who wants to participate in the network and it does not require permission to join. Private blockchains are accessible to authorized participants who have been granted permission by the network owner.
How Blockchain can be used in Healthcare?
The growing digitization of healthcare has advanced the acknowledgment of issues about secure storage, and access to patient’s medical records. Blockchain is recommended as a method of addressing critical issues faced by healthcare and protecting sharing of health records. Blockchain application is built on decentralized and trustless environment it can tackle serious issues such as automated claim authentication and public health management, the healthcare sector is a prime choice for application of blockchain technology. This technology allows patients to keep personal data and determine with whom this can be shared, thus resolving current data ownership and sharing issues. At the same time, it allows recorded data to be integrated, modified, shared safely and retrieved on time by relevant authorities using consensus protocol. This is a significant benefit of the use of this technology in the healthcare system as existing procedure needs third parties to store data. Blockchain could potentially add accountability to data management process and decreases the risk of mishandling or misusing recorded data.
What are the benefits of using Blockchain in Healthcare?
- Reduce Costs
Blockchain technology helps in reducing the cost across the entire healthcare by eliminating third parties. Through blockchain, healthcare can reduce administrative overheads.
- Enhance Security
Blockchain technology provides security to the users as it is based on cryptography. Data stored on a blockchain can be permanently secured. This makes it impossible for anyone to tamper with data on blockchain.
Blockchain technology allows patients to keep personal data and determine with whom this can be shared, thus resolving current data ownership and sharing issues and making the process more transparent.
Challenges of Blockchain Adoption in Healthcare System
- Data Access and Reliability
The decentralized idea of blockchain has both strengths and weaknesses. A decentralized network avoids the risk of a single point of failure but still the blockchain suffers from data access and reliability issues. It is because some blockchain characteristics leave blockchain vulnerable to a digital attack.
- Privacy and Seurity
Encryption provides privacy and security but healthcare information is acquired from several stakeholders which may result in unintentional invasions of protection, privacy and security. Therefore it is necessary to analyze and foresee the information before granting access control.
- Ownership and Governance
The development of suitable rules for global governance rights of ownership relating to medical transactions for the blockchain-based healthcare system is challenging.
- Lack of Adoption
Blockchain technology needs a network of connected computers there is a lack of adoption of this technology in the healthcare system. It might be necessary to motivate healthcare organizations to use blockchain technology.
- Lack of Legislative Standards
For the blockchain-based healthcare system to function,both public and private blockchains must be interoperable. This highlights the requirement for internationally coordinated standards.
Blockchain is an emerging technology that can be applied for innovative solutions in various sectors, including healthcare. A blockchain can be used in healthcare systems to preserve and exchange patient data through hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, pharmacy firms and doctors. Blockchain technology can improve the performance,security and transparency of sharing medical data in the healthcare system.