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Blockchain and health care: the new industrial revolution?

Blockchain could help healthcare organizations become more efficient and give patients more control over their health data.

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While many people only know blockchain as a framework for the cryptocurrency trading world, blockchain-based systems are increasingly compelling in the healthcare space to improve data integrity, decentralize trust and reduce costs.

Health care is one of the most complex and demanding sectors on the planet. It considers the many aspects that need to be performed smoothly and simultaneously, such as supply chain management, regulatory compliance, and increasing levels of digital patient data.

Siliconrepublic.com has talked with industry experts about the opportunities the blockchain represents, particularly when health care is directed towards a "technologically advanced and patient-centered" approach.

Although the principles should not be considered a panacea for data standardization or for system integration problems in health and medicine, blockchain still addresses some key issues that could make each step more efficient, from primary care centers to pharmaceutical trials.

Review and consent

The dott. John Halamka is CIO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and is also editor-in-chief of the academic journal Blockchain in Healthcare Today. He said that public accounting methods will make a big difference for two main areas of health: auditing and consensus.

"When a plaintiff requires a medical record, a hash written on a blockchain will ensure that the medical record is complete and unmodified.When patients consent to data sharing among tax payers, providers, researchers, other patients and companies which provide assistance navigation services, the blockchain can act as a perfect repository for consent, "explained Halamka.

The CTO of Deloitte's EMEA blockchain laboratory, Antonio Senatore, said that the complete integration of these systems will still take time. "In a broader sense, we are still at the beginning of the journey."

Individual control

A particularly powerful use case is giving the patient more control over their health data. The interoperability provided by a distributed ledger could allow medical professionals to verify the digital identity of a patient in numerous health centers. This would minimize friction, creating efficiency that did not exist before.

Halamka added: "Yes [blockchain] it might store a map of where the records are located and consent to access them, but it will not store records or billing information. "Senator noted that the use of the blockchain for patient data indexing is an extension of the broader push for digital identity solutions implemented by many governments around the world.

The public / private key cryptography scheme creates levels of identity authorization, allowing people to share distinct identity attributes with specific healthcare organizations as needed. This could reduce the inherent vulnerability of personal data storage to organizations and better protect patient privacy.

Senator added that there are ways in which blockchain could support more efficient medical studies. "Let's say that I authorize the sharing of my data for clinical trials whenever I am in a particular hospital – this allows better data for clinical trials". Here too, progress in precision medicine is possible.

Furthermore, blockchain would be useful for viewing patient consents and permissions. Halamka said, "Privacy is all about respect for patient consent preferences, and if consents are stored on the blockchain, all stakeholders can refer to such consent before sharing the data." This would make it easier to 39; access to organ donation status and other medical questions from medical professionals with the correct permissions.

Supply chain management

The integrity of the drug supply chain in pharmaceuticals is another area where blockchain can help make things work smoothly. The decentralized ledger model could help identify and validate drugs at various points using smart contracts along the development path. Call management and other drug safety protocols could also benefit from the blockchain offers of monitoring opportunities.

The trustworthy foundation that offers blockchain makes information management better and a clearer view of what is happening, in real time, with tracking and tracking on an interoperable system. "The number of batches of pharmaceuticals could be traced in a blockchain, providing a chain of trust from the point of production to the point of use," added Halamka.

Senator noted that drug counterfeiting is one of the main problems of our time and "chain supply and chain lock" fit together in a way that could reduce its impact. He continued: "We want to see the data in execution where you can match the supplier, the logistics operator and the hospital".

What does the future hold?

While technologists and health workers are still exploring the possibilities that the blockchain holds, there are still some obstacles to full integration, just like any other technological advancement. Senator emphasizes the issue of existing legacy systems in hospitals and other health-related organizations.

He added that a lot of work is entering the privacy aspect of the blockchain, which is crucial when people come to trust the methodology. Advances in cryptography and the evolution of different types of distributed accounting books are paving the way for general adoption.

According to Halamka, some companies are simplifying things. "Some companies are creating" blockchain as a service "hosted in the cloud, making it much easier to use."

The challenges in implementation are numerous, but so are the potential benefits of blockchain in the health sector. Continuous investments, experimentation and the creation of guidelines can see a transformation in the management of health and medical data. Senator said: "We are really witnessing the next industrial revolution".

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