Healthcare systems are one of the most important systems in 2020 with Covid-19 cases increasing day by day are increasing load on the healthcare systems. Blockchain, one of the most wonderful technologies of the modern era, can provide an efficient, feasible and easy solution to many healthcare system problems we face today.
Some of the problems we face today related to healthcare are record management, insurance claim processes, accelerated bio-medical research etc.
This figure shows the basic working of blockchain in healthcare system.[ref-IEEE computer society]
USES IN DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF MEDICAL SYSTEM
- Record Management-
Using blockchain for maintaining and exchanging medical records for research or other purposes will be more secure as blockchain records are immutable and secure. The source of these records will be verifiable and cannot be faked. The data can be secure as the blockchain will encrypt the data and it can only be decrypted using the key which only the owner of the record has.
- Enhanced insurance claim process-
Important goal is to verify the claim transactions to support health care financing tasks (i.e., health plan claims), such as preauthorization payment, alternative payment models, automatic claims using Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources and smart contract, and Smart Health Profile to help manage the constant exit and re-entry of Medicaid beneficiaries due to eligibility changes. It also removes intermediate operations in the claim verification process. It is immutable which makes it secure.
- Accelerated bio-medical research-
Several researchers also propose accelerating secondary use of clinical data using blockchain technology, including MedRec, Data Lake, Healthbank, and blockchain-based data sharing networks. Also, ModelChain adopted blockchain to increase the security and robustness of the distributed privacy-preserving health care predictive modelling across multiple institutions.
How data is collected from sources and distributed to patient/practise analytics and patients
ADVANTAGES OF BLOCKCHAIN IN HEALTHCARE
- Blockchain is a peer-to-peer, decentralized database management system Therefore, blockchain is suitable for applications where independently managed biomedical/health care stakeholders (eg, hospitals, providers, patients, and payers) wish to collaborate with one another without ceding control to a central management intermediary
- Blockchain only supports create and read functions (ie, it is very difficult to change the data or records). Thus, blockchain is suitable as an unchangeable ledger to record critical information (eg., insurance claim records).
- On DDBMS, the ownership of digital assets can be modified by the system administrator, while on blockchain, the ownership can only be changed by the owner, following the cryptographic protocols.45 Also, the origins of the assets are traceable (ie, the sources or the data and records can be confirmed),45 increasing the reusability of verified data
- Although DDBMS and blockchain are based on distributed technology and thus do not suffer from single-point-of-failure, it would be costly for DDBMS to achieve the high level of data redundancy blockchain does.
- Blockchain utilizes the 256-bit Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-256), a cryptographic hash function defined in the US Federal Information Processing Standards 186-4, published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as the cryptographic hash function in the hash-chain that the proof-of-work algorithm runs on.
LIMITATIONS OF BLOCKCHAIN
- Blockchain is a new technology and it may take years for healthcare systems to completely adopt to this change. Shifting from DBMS to blockchain would require a lot of software changes which will take time.
- The next major challenge is that adding a record in blockchain takes time as it has to be verified by all the miners. In a proof-of-concept study, transaction processing speed is expected to be only a few hundredths of the conventional way, such as credit card. Considering that the number of transactions in the healthcare sector is enormous, a blockchain technology revolution is needed.
Author – Yash P Burad