Our global society has been quickly advancing the world through technological inventions and discoveries during the 21st century. Though new pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and services have improved the healthcare industry, it has yet to be systemically altered. But these shortcomings in the healthcare industry aren’t something new.
Most countries around the world struggle with inefficiency, cost, and security when it comes to healthcare. You often hear complaints of long wait times, outdated equipment, and a lack of staff. But the inefficiencies of the healthcare industry aren’t the problem. These issues are well documented and accepted around the world. The problem is there weren’t any solutions when it came to solving these core issues. Well, at least up until now.
What is Blockchain?
You may have heard of Blockchain before, but not in the context of healthcare. If you haven’t heard of Blockchain, it’s time you did. Blockchain is the backbone of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Blockchain technology works as a decentralized public ledger, keeping transactions and records in sync by having a network of computers approve the transaction or record.
Once approved, transactions are time-stamped and placed on the chain, hence the name Blockchain. This chain is an endless public ledger of verified transactions and records. The Blockchain cannot be manipulated or altered; once a transaction or record is on the Blockchain, it’s permanent and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
What does this mean for the healthcare industry?
At first sight, Blockchain seems to be a perfect solution; it answers all the major problems. But before we give it a stamp of approval, how will it aid to solve various digital challenges in the health industry?
Creates 100% transparency
Blockchain offers complete transparency of every transaction recorded. Of course, Blockchain solves the problem of data storage; however, in terms of transparency, medical professionals have 24/7 access to patient information. High-risk patients will be monitored with ease, reducing pressure off of patients and emergency services.
Transfering confidential documentation
Blockchain is decentralized, meaning the data is not stored in one central location, unlike hospitals and clinics. A major problem in the healthcare industry is the transferring of confidential information, including patient information, studies, and treatments. Blockchain ensures the information is unhackable and uncompromisable. In addition, information stored on the Blockchain cannot be altered; all records are authentic and secure.
Remove third-parties to reduce cost
Blockchain removes the need for third-parties, which is heavily used to transfer confidential information. By removing these services, the healthcare industry significantly reduces cost. Funds can be allocated to other sectors in need such as training, equipment, and emergency services.
Reduce counterfeit drugs
It’s estimated thousands of people die every year due to counterfeit drugs. Because of the lack of technology, pharmaceutical companies struggle to track the lifecycle of their medication. Through Blockchain, pharmaceutical companies can track and trace inventory, discovering the precise location of when medicine has been altered. This gives companies more control over their inventory and ultimately saves lives.
On paper, Blockchain sounds like the ticket to revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Yet, even though its resume is impressive, it faces many challenges.
Are the challenges up against Blockchain?
Even though we’re technologically advanced, we still face inadequacies. Yes, Blockchain’s technology would fundamentally change the healthcare industry, but it still has its challenges. There’s a reason why the healthcare system remains untouched on a large scale; implementing Blockchain technology on a state level has never been done before and would not be an easy task. Though the healthcare industry needs to be updated, firms and governments are uneasy with the idea of investing in the unknown. If something was to happen, and Blockchain failed, what would happen?
The problem is fundamental questions like the governments above are still left unanswered. Another problem that arises is the question of investment. What are the costs involved to implement Blockchain technology? The answer is the industry doesn’t actually know how much the cost for implementing and maintaining Blockchain technology will be. When it comes down to it; it’s all about numbers. Is it more cost-effective to leave the health industry as it is?
There’s more to Blockchain than simply implementing it. Healthcare providers need to be trained in this new technology, and it’s not like studying for the CSCS exam. New positions will need to be created for maintenance. These questions regarding financial investment make firms and governments feel uncertain. As these questions are left unanswered, it’s clear that Blockchain is a relatively new technology.
Its clear Blockchain technology is still developing; however, its success in Bitcoin shows hope for other industries outside of the cryptocurrency world. In the upcoming years, these questions about Blockchain will be answered, and it will slowly make the must-needed shift into the healthcare industry. Regardless of the challenges Blockchain faces, change is inevitable, and it will be done through Blockchain.