Blockchain Health Information Exchange: A Healthcare Revolution?

Blockchain technology is a hot topic in the healthcare industry. It has the potential to transform healthcare by placing the patient at the center of the healthcare system and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data.

The healthcare industry already has a similar platform called the health information exchange (HIE) that facilitates the peer-to-peer exchange of electronic health records (EHR) among member participants. Blockchain could revolutionize that model by making electronic medical records more efficient and secure.

(source: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/public-sector/articles/blockchain-opportunities-for-health-care.html)

What exactly is blockchain technology? Blockchain is a distributed system recording and storing transaction records. It is a shared record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked transaction blocks and stored in a digital ledger. “Blockchain relies on established cryptographic techniques to allow each participant in a network to interact (e.g. store, exchange, and view information), without preexisting trust between the parties. In a blockchain system, there is no central authority; instead, transaction records are stored and distributed across all network participants.”

(source: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/public-sector/articles/blockchain-opportunities-for-health-care.html)

Simply put, blockchain is a distributed and a write-once-read-only record of digital events in a chronological order that is shared in a peer-to-peer network. It is a decentralized system which is centered on the patient instead of the data holder.

One of the most significant ways the blockchain could change healthcare is in reducing healthcare costs. Improved data sharing between providers results in a higher probability of accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments, and the opportunity for healthcare organizations to deliver cost-efficient care. The costs that come with data reconciliation would be eliminated.

Also, blockchain can transform revenue cycle management, drug supply management, clinical trials and prevent frauds.

(source: https://hitconsultant.net/2018/01/29/blockchain-technology-in-healthcare-benefits/#.XRElYY9CTgk)

Violating HIPAA privacy laws comes with significant fines. But breaches are not likely as blockchains are impenetrable. The blockchain needs to ensure all the transactions are encrypted and must be verified by the network.

Blockchain technology might not be the answer to all questions related to sharing data, but it provides great opportunities for the future of healthcare. However, a number of technical and organizational preparations must be taken before it can be fully applied by organizations. 

More electronic data is available than ever before, and the amount of healthcare data is growing. Privacy and security need to remain a top priority. All parties involved need to be assured that sensitive healthcare data is constantly protected and safe from possible risks.

If your organization has any questions about privacy and security and data management contact us today.

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