In today’s digital world, patients take an active part in their medical journey. 84% of patients use online sources for research before visiting a hospital. They use self tracking devices and wearables such as Fitbit or Apple watch to measure their compliance with a treatment. These new devices make it possible to record, store and share medical information about patients in real time. Digital innovations are changing patients’ behaviour in the healthcare landscape. Yet medical records generated by doctors remain stored in a traditional way and only allow patients a limited access to the data. Furthermore, patients tend to visit multiple doctors in their lifetime. Medical records and test results from different physicians are often stored in incompatible databases. Today reconciling medical data among clinics, labs, pharmacies and insurance companies does not work well. For example, it can be unclear which medication patients were prescribed and which medication they are actually taking.
This lack of data sharing costs 150 000 lives and $18.6 billion per year, according to Premier Healthcare Alliance. Blockchain technology can solve this alarming problem. Blockchain can place patients at the centre of the healthcare ecosystem, increase security, privacy and interoperability of health data.
Here is how
Blockchain was originally designed as a ledger for financial transactions. These transactions are stored on append-only (only add, never remove or change), immutable and time-stamped blocks that can only be accessed using a private key. However, not only financial transactions can be stored on the blockchain. If we stored medical records on the blockchain, we could add all updates on medication to an open and trusted source. As a result, medical records would be up to date, well understood, and accessible for all stakeholders, patients, hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, etc. The outcome of this would be well reconciled medical data and the elimination of manual human intervention. Patients would stay in control of their medical records and have the ability to grant access to other healthcare stakeholders. In this way, we could address diseases in time, prevent loss of life, and minimise unnecessary healthcare expenses.
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