healthcare: How can blockchain offer solutions to challenges in the healthcare industry: EU report

The wide-ranging utilities and potential of the blockchain industry are now undisputed and are being explored and researched constantly to address the problems of various sectors. A report titled ‘Blockchain Applications in the Healthcare Sector’ published by EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in April 2022 has taken a comprehensive account of the existing challenges in the healthcare sector and the solutions that can be provided by the blockchain industry. We present to you the facts unveiled in this report.
We first take stock of the problems detailed in the EU report, affecting the efficiency of healthcare system :

  • The changing demographics have strained the healthcare industry with older patients having chronic and complex diseases and has led to the transition of helathcare towards tremendous digital transformation to meet the demand.
    • The digitisation involves new digital methods and technology-intensive medicines for both primary prevention and curative purposes.
    • In addition there’s been a shift from paper-based medical records to electronic records and new technologies to upgrade healthcare services.
    • However, blockchain is required to sustain the prevailing demands in the industry and enable continued development and digitisation of healthcare.
  • Organizational and Workforce difficulties:
  • Increased specialization has led to the demand for effective tools for multi-disciplinary collaboration which could be implemented across various disciplines and beyond the healthcare sector.
  • Besides the vast reservoir of healthcare-related knowledge, methods, and tools have brought more sophistication and complexity to the healthcare system, and lastly more susceptible to data errors.
  • Patient engagement with healthcare information
  • Many patients are interested in accessing their health information through a patient portal or app, although only about 30% of patients are able to do so, according to the research by Allard & Krasowski in 2021.
  • Health system interoperability which is the ability for different health information technology systems to integrate and exchange data for improved healthcare delivery can be a solution for easy information accessibility to the patients.

Solutions in Blockchain:
Blockchain can prove to be a technological panacea to these demands and concerns of healthcare sector in the following ways:

  • In the healthcare sector, blockchains can protect health information by combining data storage, encryption, and distribution.
  • The early blockchain technologies designed for healthcare are private, permissioned blockchains that meet the demand of maintaining privacy of healthcare information.
  • Recording data on a blockchain using encryption or hashing the data, reduces access to sensitive information.
    • In fact, a properly designed healthcare application on a distributed ledger can resolve issues surrounding data security. It ensures secure storage of data, the authorized reading, and writing of the data.
  • Besides, the distributed data storage in blockchain can be designed in a manner that prevents a single data center from having direct access and control to the underlying patient data.
  • The decentralized character of blockchain would ensure continuous and uninterrupted availability of applications like certifications of Covid-19 vaccination.
  • In the supply chain operations of the pharmaceutical industry, blockchain can provide traceability and transparency to the extensive and complex ecosystem of numerous shareholders.
    • It can significantly improve the efficiency of the various processes by preventing duplication of tasks.

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