Blockchain Will Solve Many Of Healthcare’s Problems In The Next Decade

Blockchain, News, Opinion | February 18, 2020 By:

The healthcare industry today is afflicted by a number of well-documented issues, from spiralling costs of medical care to the cumbersome and convoluted processes for completing any procedure. It’s clear that these issues have a significant impact on patient experience. However, one rapidly evolving technology, blockchain, is already capable of providing solutions to many of the problems endemic in the sector.

The use of decentralized ledger, commonly known as blockchain, is gaining a lot of traction in the healthcare industry. By using blockchain technology, the way that patients access, deliver, manage and pay for services can be changed for the better. Blockchain technology allows these processes to be streamlined in order to make them more efficient and transparent. In doing so, patients can significantly lessen the burden associated with administration or payments. 

The following are some of the most significant ways that blockchain will impact healthcare by increasing clinician satisfaction, and improving the overall health of patients.

Making a prompt shift towards a value-based healthcare model is one of the most impactful ways that blockchain can influence healthcare. The problem with more traditional reimbursement models is that the reward is often quantified by the number of services a healthcare provider performs or the number of patients they deal with over a certain period of time. The focus is drawn away from the patient in this model. In contrast to this, the motivation to provide better care to patients can be encouraged through the value-based healthcare model, while ensuring that payments are processed quickly and transparently. Patient readmissions will be drastically reduced as a result of this, as they will have received the correct care from the outset. Value-based payments ensure that physicians are spending adequate time with their patients to guarantee that quality is valued over quantity.

Blockchain also stands to significantly improve the process of provider credentialing, whereby third-party providers review documentation regarding a medical provider’s history before allowing them to directly treat patients. Seeking a qualified medical professional is one of the most important elements for many patients,  however, due to the vast amount of accrediting bodies and institutions, it has become increasingly difficult to verify the qualifications of those claiming to be legitimate medical practitioners. Blockchain technology can help healthcare institutions, insurers, and others in the sector can ensure that only qualified physicians are allowed to practice.

Data security is imperative when it comes to dealing with medical records and blockchain can further assist the healthcare industry by ensuring the integrity of this most sensitive of personal data. Healthcare providers have an ethical duty to ensure that a patient’s personal health records are stored securely and safely without the threat of a potential data breach. More traditional methods of storing information do not make the cut in terms of the level of security necessary for protecting the data against a breach, and, as our healthcare data is among our most significant and personal information, we must ensure that it is protected. Therefore, storing such data on the blockchain can greatly enhance its security and reduce the burden on IT departments. 

By empowering the patient to take control of their data, their overall healthcare journey can be significantly enhanced.  Many elements involved can often fall through the cracks when receiving medical care such as lost or incorrect medical records, leading to time-wasted repeating tests or misdiagnosing illnesses. Understanding what treatments they have received and what they need is difficult for patients due to the lack of available records. Blockchain creates a more patient-centric focus by allowing patients to take control of their healthcare journey. Eliminating  inefficiencies, creating a more streamlined, accessible and methodical system makes for a more efficient way of managing a patient’s overall experience. 

Healthcare hasn’t always led the way in terms of digitalization, but it has the potential to benefit greatly from it. As blockchain works towards achieving mass adoption, in years to come, many people will be able to feel its benefit through the elimination of problems associated with processes such as credentialing, manual administration, misdiagnosing patients and data-misuse. Blockchain uses its smart contract technology to establish a trust network, allowing patients to manage who they share their data with and what is being shared, and rightfully putting them at the center of their healthcare journey.