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Shaping Healthcare Ecosystem with Blockchain

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Blockchain is being widely discussed due to its integration into various sectors, including finance and infrastructure. It has significantly impacted the healthcare industry, revolutionizing the way patient healthcare data is shared across the field. Here’s an overview of how blockchain is shaping healthcare ecosystems.

Simplifying Blockchain

Blockchain technology essentially comprises three main components:

  • Distributed network
  • Digital transactions
  • Stored ledger

In this distributed network of computers, members or users can share health data, information, or scans in peer-to-peer transactions structured into a block containing cryptographic hash. This information is shared onto a stored ledger open to all network members, ensuring security. However, these shared ledger records and transactions cannot be deleted or edited without the consent of other peers in the network.

When a peer sends information to another peer, it is validated by every member of the group and then added to the record of existing transactions.

How Blockchain Powers Healthcare

The implications of blockchain in healthcare are wide-reaching. Blockchain technology facilitates interoperability by connecting fragmented systems, allowing access to information from different physicians within an integrated practice unit. This can generate quick and better results, similar to a distributed network of systems. For example, patients with similar chronic conditions can be identified, and their treatment plans can be shared among doctors.

Through open ledgers, smart contracts are created, and treatment responsibilities are shared via distributed networks. Patients can also compile and share their health data tracked over medical devices. This collaboration offers unique opportunities in healthcare and provides a secure and immutable way to share information.

Why Blockchain is the Solution

For patients, the security and confidentiality of their health databases are essential. Data can be accessed and manipulated, compromising its authenticity. However, blockchain eliminates these shortcomings by lacking a central administrator, providing users with access and full control over their data. This streamlined access to confidential patient data eliminates duplication, errors, and discrepancies that may occur with traditional data storage.

Additionally, blockchain application eliminates the need for intermediaries to manage contracts and significantly reduces the multiplicity of tests and clinical trials by enabling the sharing of test results through the network to other practitioners.

How Blockchain Fits with Healthcare

Blockchain application will enhance the healthcare ecosystem by eliminating third parties and middlemen while addressing industry challenges such as fragmented data and security. The authentication controls of shared transactions lower the risk of data theft and other frauds. The table below provides an insight into how blockchain complements the healthcare industry.

Challenges Faced by Healthcare Industry How Blockchain Fits in
·Huge piles of fragmented data                    either in digital form or on paper ·Shared storage that is not centralized through a computer network
Patients’ data can be shared across nodes
·Access to fragmented data ·Secured access to distributed patients’ health data through shared ledgers that are distributed over the network.

·Real-time access to updated patient health data

·Interoperability of systems ·Decentralized network that is connected and can be operated across geographies.
·Data security ·With blockchain, there is no central administrator of information, preventing corruption, and digital identity protects patient privacy
·Access to patient-generated data ·Data generated through the internet of things (IoT) or medical devices at home can also be shared onto the distributed ledger
·Chronological access to data ·With blockchain, the data shared on a distributed network is stored chronologically, eliminating the need for shuffling between files
·Cost Effectiveness ·Eliminate intermediaries and third-party applications

Conclusion

Given the complexity of the healthcare sector, the usage of blockchain will be significant. With its enormous potential, blockchain will be the next big innovation to transform the sector, and healthcare providers need to fully adopt the technology to achieve synergies and optimize service delivery.

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