Blockchain in health care

The health sector leverages digital technology and medication that improve the provision of quality health care. Researchers are always on the lookout for new and better medication that can cure different diseases. The health industry also embraces technology to scale up the provision of medical care and also to strengthen patient-centered interoperability that aims to better the services provided to patients.

Blockchain is one of the latest technology that the health sector seeks to embrace to improve access of medical data to researchers, doctors, pharmacists, and other health practitioners across various health care settings. The blockchain encompasses records arranged in block structures. They are immutable. This means that the data in a blockchain cannot be changed as it is interconnected with a network of computers and one can only change the information in all the blocks at the same time, which is impossible.

Blockchains have a time-stamped series of transactions and unique identifiers such as a fingerprint. They also contain a hash of the previous blocks. A blockchain is a public register that contains information about transactions and assets.  It adopted a smart contract. A smart contract runs automatically and can function independently if all the requirements are met. Blockchain technology adapted it as one of its key functions.  It helped in expanding the use of blockchain technology from cryptocurrency like bitcoin.

Blockchain has several benefits that the health sector can leverage. First, its immutability makes information secure as it is unchangeable. Secondly, it improves record keeping management. Thirdly, it advances the biomedical and health care data register and finally, it speeds up research. A patient can allow researchers to access their information for a fixed period on a blockchain.

The blockchain is a key driver that will facilitate the change from institution-centered interoperability to patient-centered interoperability. Several major challenges face patient-centered interoperability. Some of them include; privacy, security and data standards. Blockchain faces up to 51% hacking attempts. There are also issues of confidentiality, speed, and transparency. With the enormous number of people accessing data on a blockchain. It is slow. Information technology experts should look for ways to improve its speed.

Embracing blockchain in health care will not only step up the provision of quality services to patients but it will also facilitate research by ensuring easy access to data. Blockchain is advantageous as it improves the management of records, its data is unchangeable and it is not owned by a single entity.

References

Kuo, Tsung-Ting, Hyeon-Eui Kim, and Lucila Ohno-Machado. “Blockchain distributed ledger technologies for biomedical and health care applications.” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 24.6 (2017): 1211-1220.

Angraal, Suveen, Harlan M. Krumholz, and Wade L. Schulz. “Blockchain technology: applications in health care.” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 10.9 (2017): e003800.

Gordon, William J., and Christian Catalini. “Blockchain technology for healthcare: facilitating the transition to patient-driven interoperability.” Computational and structural biotechnology journal 16 (2018): 224-230.

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