Blockchain is everywhere these days, from building the foundation for the financial sector with DeFi platforms to being used to deploy non-fungible tokens in the art world. While many were introduced to blockchain as a result of cryptocurrency, its vast potential is being explored on a larger scale.
One of the potential applications for blockchain is, unsurprisingly, the healthcare sector. As the world is gearing up to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that healthcare needs an overhaul. The pandemic exposed a number of flaws within the existing healthcare sector, some of which can be addressed with blockchain solutions.
Gaps in the Market
Throughout the pandemic, one theme was universal with regards to containing the virus, which was the need to track not only the infection rate but the movement of the virus from person to person. In the United Kingdom, for example, a track and trace system was put in place to determine where infection clusters were springing up and prevent further spreading of the virus.
All this takes place in real-time and thus, there is the need for patient data to be easily accessible as well as constant records of who has been tested, their test results, as well as vaccinations.
Additionally, patients and healthcare providers often face the challenge of record-keeping. Across the world, many clinics still rely on paper records, which can be damaged, stolen, and so on. As patients change healthcare providers, the transfer of documents can prove to be difficult, especially with accessing records from years prior.
In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, tracking the administration of the vaccine can be difficult, especially in more rural areas. But, if done correctly, can provide valuable information for both health bodies and healthcare providers alike.
How Blockchain can Help
One of blockchain’s biggest strengths is that it allows the creation of permanent ledgers of data and transactions. If applied to the healthcare sector, this can be very beneficial.
In terms of patient records, once a patient profile is created across a blockchain network and data is imputed, it cannot be removed. This means that every instance of a patient receiving care from their birth to their death can be accessed permanently. This eliminates the issue of records being lost or having to be manually transferred from one place to another.
Another potential angle is the use of proof-of-concept blockchains. These systems allow for the sharing of data without the revelation of identity. This, in practice, could mean the sharing of patient data across a certain geographical area or clinic without actual patient names or identifying information being revealed. This can greatly aid medical research without compromising patient’s privacy rights.
More strides are being made with wearable medical technology such as Fitbits. If blockchain solutions are incorporated into the mix, patient data can not only be stored in a more efficient manner but in a more secure one. A singular blockchain-based profile can store data on the various metrics tracked by the devices such as steps taken, sleep schedules, heart rates, and so on.
With this much data so easily available, predictions can be made by AI about future health risks, needed lifestyle changes, and so on. Predictive medical technology runs on data and by solving the issue of data access, blockchain can transform healthcare for the better and fuel innovation.
It seems that we are only just scratching the surface of what blockchain can do and the medical world has a lot to gain from it. From better patient records to improved disease prevention, it is clear that blockchain is here to stay.
For any business that operates within the health sector, investing in blockchain technology to address specific issues is key. Not only will your business processes be made easier and more efficient with a decentralized database but customers will have access to a wide range of innovative services.
To take full advantage of the power of blockchain, follow the SAP blog for updates on the development of blockchain both in the medical field and beyond.