Blockchain And The Future Of Electronic Medical Records

The future of electronic medical records and their accuracy may rest in the hands of blockchain and other forms of cryptocurrency.

October 29, 2018
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Blockchain is the Biggest Breakthrough in Healthcare in 50 Years

Blockchain technology is typically associated with cryptocurrencies, but it can also be applied to new industries – one of which is the medical field. The technology is being explored as a way to create a shared network of healthcare data, and could hold a key to the future of electronic medical records.

Why is Healthcare Heavily Impacted by Blockchain?

New technology is the future of the healthcare industry. While many types of digital technology have transformed the industry, blockchain is one of the biggest breakthroughs in at least half a century. It will shape the industry in everything from protecting medical records, offering better patient packages and streamlining billing.

Protecting Medical Records

Blockchain provides a better way to store, share and protect sensitive information. Australia and Estonia are already using blockchain to manage health data as well as broker transactions among healthcare providers, patients and insurers.

To be clear, blockchain likely won’t replace electronic health records. The computational intensity of the encryption only allows a handful of transactions to be completed each second. Most electronic health record systems process thousands of transactions per second.

But blockchain is not meant to be a database; it’s meant to serve as a ledger of data integrity. The technology can be used for proof-of-work, integrity and auditing.

Blockchain can prove that medical records are unmodified and complete. It can also document what procedures were done and when. Ultimately, blockchain can help improve patient care while also reducing medical errors that can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits.

Blockchain ensures the integrity of medical records, providing absolute proof that the medical record cannot be changed.

The technology can also record patient consent for sharing information. Parties seeking to exchange medical data about a patient can refer to the blockchain for permission.

Rewarding Patients

Along with protecting electronic health records, blockchain can also be used as a way to reward patients. If patients stay healthy, keep their appointments and follow their care plans, they may be rewarded through the blockchain.

In a similar way, patients may be rewarded for contributing data to clinical trials and research using the same method. These incentives can improve patient satisfaction and encourage them to return to the same healthcare provider. Reducing patient turnover could be a very helpful way to improve care.

Blockchain is Still a New Concept in the Medical Field

Of course, it will take some time for the medical industry to adopt blockchain technology. Still, the market for blockchain in healthcare is projected to reach $5.6 billion by 2025.

Thus far, blockchain applications have focused primarily on physician credentialing and chain logistics.

There are companies working on technologies that will allow blockchain to be used in the management of electronic health records, but regulations are making it difficult to move forward. In countries like the U.S., which have a “zero risk tolerance,” the government may need to work with these companies to get things moving and become a part of the initiative.

Despite challenges on the regulatory front, blockchain appears to be the most practical solution for managing data that’s tamper-proof and anonymous. The technology could solve the health industry’s interoperability issues.

One of the primary benefits to using blockchain is that it will allow patients to connect electronic medical records and seamlessly share their record across all healthcare providers. In this way, the technology could improve the quality of patient care.

It will be years before we see blockchain become an integral part of the healthcare industry. Broad adoption is a long way off, but the technology is already being implemented in some areas of healthcare.

Healthcare Providers Turn to Blockchain to Advance their Systems

Blockchain may have been developed to secure crypto transactions, but it is being applied in a wide range of other industries. The healthcare industry is always looking to invest in new technology that can help them improve the delivery of services. Blockchain has proven to be a very viable technology for offering better customer service, so a growing number of healthcare providers will invest in it in 2019 and beyond.