Big data is arguably one of the most powerful assets in tackling challenges in the healthcare sector. It’s essential for tracking and tracing infections, managing healthcare talent and medical supply networks, and forecasting the impact on the economy in the future. We can take this to higher levels with the support of blockchain technology.
For a long time now, the primary focus has been on demand for the data, that is, the sale of citizens’ private data by corporations like Facebook, Google, and Uber without the consent of the individuals. It has completely overshadowed the supply aspect of data: where data comes from, who creates it, who truly owns it, and who gets to obtain it in the first place. Carlos Moreira, CEO of WISeKey, said that the identity is ours; however, the information that comes out of the interaction is owned by someone else.
Blockchain technology allows us to use our data proactively to enhance our health. Taking ownership of our data can enhance our lives in a multitude of ways, including saving lives and ensuring patients’ privacy and security. The ledger technology also helps healthcare researchers get genetic code by having access to the patient’s medical records as well as assist in regulating the drug supply chain.
How can ownership of data and blockchain technology improve our health?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology in which transactions are recorded just once, eliminating data duplication. Furthermore, the immutable records ensure that nobody can change the data after it’s been recorded without the network’s permission. Blockchain technology also offers smart contracts — programs that run when certain criteria are satisfied and are stored on a blockchain. They’re usually used for the execution of an agreement so that all parties can be certain of the conclusion right away, without the need for any intermediaries or time waste.
Due to a lack of sufficient healthcare data, users are typically unable to utilize their healthcare information to manage their lifestyles and long-term healthcare, such as treatment plans, medicines and treatment supplies, etc. They reap no benefits from this data utilization, yet they are the ones who face the brunt of the risk and responsibility if it is lost or misused.
By having access to medical and other personal data using blockchain technology,
- users can take advantage of the data to chalk out their healthcare plans accordingly,
- users can also ensure that the information is secure and not misused by industry giants or hackers, and
- privacy of patient data can be maintained by keeping track of data movement.
How has blockchain brought a revolution in the healthcare sector?
The unison of the healthcare sector and blockchain technology has bought forward several benefits for both healthcare providers and patients. Not only has it helped to improve the security and privacy of patients’ medical data, but it has also helped patients monetize their data for research purposes.
And clearly, the stakeholders of the healthcare sector are beginning to notice and take advantage of these benefits. According to a report by Frost and Sullivan, the healthcare sector has the potential to grow at a CAGR of 63.85% from 2018 to 2025 by tapping blockchain technology. As per the report, by 2025, the sector is expected to save approximately $100 — $150 billion per year.
In its first, Canada’s University Health Network (UHN) created software that uses blockchain technology. It is a decentralized platform that helps control peer-to-peer transactions of personal data, and the transactions can’t be altered or undone without the platform’s approval.
Further in 2018, UHN, in partnership with IBM, came up with a platform that uses blockchain technology to safeguard and unify patient data throughout the network and collect and record patients’ consent before any information is further shared with researchers. The software automatically encrypts and saves details of the consent transaction on the shared ledger when the patients give their consent.
Hacera, a startup, has launched MiPasa, an initiative to integrate, aggregate, and share information available globally from multiple credible sources like the World Health Organization and licensed private facilities or individuals. The revolutionary development received support from multiple leading IT companies.
MiPasa onboards data providers use Hacera’s network, a decentralized blockchain, and then stream data via IBM Blockchain and IBM Cloud.
How has the introduction of blockchain technology transformed businesses?
Moving away from the healthcare sector, blockchain technology is used in multiple other industries such as banking, healthcare, e-commerce, mining, logistics, etc. Across all of these industries, blockchain has immense potential to transform businesses. Here’s how:
- Blockchain augments transparency among clients and employees. Using blockchain technology, a decentralized network that eliminates the central authority and promotes transparency can be formed.
- Blockchain technology employs advanced level security measures as compared to the other platforms. Using the consensus method, businesses can validate and confirm all transactions and operations.
- The application of blockchain technology will increase efficiency, consequently increasing business output. It also streamlines data and allows it to be stored in one location, making the process more efficient and quick.
- Blockchain supports cryptocurrency and will allow multiple payment options using bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrency.
No doubt, the adoption of blockchain technology, both in the healthcare sector as well as in businesses, will significantly improve transparency and improve the efficiency of operations. With its advantages such as improved transparency and trust, reduced costs, immutability, etc., blockchain technology clearly has the potential to transform industries across the world like never before.