We all need healthcare at some point in our lives from birth, annual physical to unforeseen injuries to chronic conditions. Healthcare creates billions of transactions around the world every year. Blockchain would make sense in more ways than one, but the implementation would also come with various challenges. I foresee the integration of blockchain into healthcare which cross the matrix of cybersecurity, interoperability and precision medicine.
Introduction to Blockchain
In 2008, a person using the pseudonym known as Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper introducing bitcoin and the applications of blockchain. Blockchain is the underlying layer for “bitcoin and is a design pattern consisting of three main components: a distributed network, a shared ledger and digital transactions.” [pdf] Fast forward almost a decade later: there is an open discussion about the benefits of blockchain in healthcare.
Cybersecurity: cryptography is a core element of Blockchain
Blockchain can build on trust by providing a new dimension to security with cryptography techniques that create privacy and confidentiality to data and transactions. Blockchain can lead to the development of precision medicine, medical research, and patient privacy. Encryption refers to the operation of disguising plaintext, information to be concealed, this turn secure patient data and transactions.
Improving interoperability once and for all
Blockchain technology can address the interoperability challenges in health IT systems creating a standardization to enable individuals, healthcare providers, healthcare entities and medical researchers to securely share electronic health data [pdf].
Precision Medicine through Blockchain
Blockchain enables the gathering and integrating data from a distributed network of healthcare participants. Every record or transaction is time-stamped and unalterable, which makes it trustworthy. By ensuring the provenance of data, blockchain provides data integrity and leads to trust among participants. Blockchain allows participants to share data with other participants in a safe manner. It means that patients will potentially be able to securely share personal information with their providers, ultimately leading to customized care.
There are many laws and policies globally which Blockchain will have to overcome towards widespread adoption however the potential benefits are very promising for a variety of healthcare stakeholders.
For more information, feel free to check the following HIMSS17 programming