Blockchain technology can transform the future of healthcare

Blockchain technology has truly revolutionized the vision of the future of information and data. At the most fundamental level, blockchain technology allows for the decentralization of data; that is, it allows control of information to pass from a centralized entity (for example, an individual or organization) to a distributed network. By using a distributed network to control information, society can establish greater transparency, trust, and fidelity in that data.

In one of the first reports published by the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California Berkeley, the authors explain that “blockchain is essentially a distributed database of records or a public ledger of all transactions or events. digital processes that have been executed and shared between the participating parties. Each transaction in the public ledger is verified by consensus of the majority of the participants in the system. And, once entered, the information can never be deleted. The most popular use of the blockchain so far has been the famous Bitcoin cryptocurrency, which is a decentralized version of the digital currency.

Proponents of the technology posit that blockchain will revolutionize the world across all industries, making the exchange of data and information easier, more reliable, and more secure. While some industries are trying to become early adopters of this technology, others are cautious about exactly how it can be used and are moving carefully.

In a presentation late last year, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) discussed the potential of blockchain in healthcare. The paper presented multiple examples of potential use cases, ranging from supply chain transparency and secure access to medical records, to simplifying communication with insurance companies and even better enablement of insurance companies. remote patient monitoring capabilities.

Especially with regard to healthcare data, blockchain enthusiasts believe that the technology can provide greater security and fidelity compared to existing solutions. An article published by the World Economic Forum explains: “Blockchain-based solutions for health documentation offer secure encryption techniques that protect the integrity of people’s information when communicating with different parties. Through tokenization, smart contracts, and encryption techniques that are involved in blockchain network transactions, the pre-authorization process will be greatly reduced, allowing patients to receive the necessary and informed care more efficiently. . This is a result of the healthcare provider being able to access relevant information quickly, where previously it was reliant on the patient or files physically mailed or emailed from disparate sources such as local doctors, labs, etc.

But others are cautious. For one thing, blockchain is not well understood by the masses, leading to skepticism and reluctance in many to apply the technology to something as critical as healthcare infrastructure. Also, the use cases of blockchain, although growing, are still limited. However, the basis of the technology itself is not new. In fact, as explained in the HHS presentation, the first forms of blockchain theory were presented in the 1980s, with iterations of modern technology taking more definitive shape in the last two decades.

It goes without saying that healthcare information and data has long been in need of innovation, especially in a world where threats to cybersecurity and data fidelity are a constant problem. In fact, blockchain technology is likely here to stay; however, innovators, political leaders, and technology enthusiasts will need to devise ways to apply this technology to healthcare in a safe, responsible, and patient-centered manner.

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