Blockchain is the buzz word for health information technology and information security specialists these days. It’s hailed as the answer to interoperability and something which can solve healthcare’s looming security problems.
Developed in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, the digital ledger technology transactions are logged publicly and in chronological order. The database constitutes a blockchain by showing an ever-expanding list of ordered “blocks,” each time-stamped and connected to the block that came before it. What has got healthcare excited about blockchain’s potential for data security is the fact that each block is an indelible record of a given transaction that occurred.
Apart from data interoperability and security, the two most commonly cited examples of how blockchain can be used in healthcare, the stream of new possibilities is flowing as well. These include master patient index, claims adjudication, supply chain and clinical trials.
If we look at master patient index, hospitals currently have as many as 20 different ways to enter a simple date-of-birth and no real way to standardize that once it’s been done. By tying patients to their data rather than identity, blockchain could ease this issue.
The other potential advantages include:
- To automate adjudication, making the decision to deny or pay a claim to be made without human intervention.
- Automation applied to the supply chain to monitor contracts, for example, throughout the entire lifecycle.
- To create a layer of de-identified data that researchers could tap to recruit patients and more.
- Enable the Holy Grail of a longitudinal health record by securing data as it’s exchanged among organizations in a format that is usable for various clinicians across the care continuum.
As per a recent report from Deloitte, healthcare is planning the most aggressive deployments. 35 percent of health and life sciences respondents said thattheir company plans to deploy blockchain within the next year.28 percent of respondents across all industries said they’d already invested $5 million or more, while 10 percent have invested $10 million or more.Healthcare has taken to blockchain in a big way over the past year and is expected to continue innovating and investing in the technology in the near future.