How Distributed Ledger Technologies Are Reshaping the Healthcare Industry
TL; DR: This article offers an overview of Distributed Ledger Technologies and blockchain’s applications in the healthcare industry. From enhancing security and transparency to creating innovative possibilities for patient care, discover how DLTs are contributing to the development of a safer, interconnected, and patient-focused healthcare ecosystem.
Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs), with blockchain at the forefront, are taking the healthcare industry by storm. These advancements are transforming the way health data is managed, shared, and secured while also uncovering innovative opportunities to enhance patient care.
To explore the ways in which these technologies are reshaping the healthcare field, let’s delve into the key topics that confirm DLTs can go a long way to address challenges across the health industry: reinforcing security, enhancing transparency, and discovering fresh avenues to improve the overall well-being of patients.
Navigating Definitions: Distributed Ledger Technology vs. Blockchain
Before diving into the applications of these technologies in healthcare, it is worth taking a clarifying pause: though DLT and blockchain are often used interchangeably, they are not synonyms.
DLT is a broad concept that refers to any system where data is stored across multiple nodes or locations, promoting decentralization and consensus mechanisms. While DLT encompasses various ledger technologies, blockchain is a type of distributed ledger tech that employs a chain of blocks to record and link transactions in a linear, chronological order.
In a nutshell, blockchain works as a database that allows users to store, track, share, and synchronize information without depending on a centralized entity. Its decentralization helps ensure that exchanges are permanent and transparent, guaranteeing the immutability of information.
This means that all the content stored on a blockchain is tamper-proof and unchangeable. These key features make it a technology of interest to various sectors and industries, notably healthcare.
Expanding Applications: Blockchain’s Transformative Role in Healthcare
To delve into the ways in which DLTs are reshaping this industry, let’s focus on the main areas in which this tech is making game-changing contributions.
1. Blockchain Is Enhancing Health Data Security and Privacy in Healthcare
One of the most popular blockchain healthcare applications right now is keeping health data safe. Blockchain’s immutability and resistance to tampering appear highly appealing for stakeholders looking to enhance data security and privacy.
Blockchains’ ability to keep an immutable, decentralized, and transparent ledger of all health data makes them an ideal technology for protecting medical records and other sensitive information. This tech also ensures privacy by using intricate and robust codes to shield people’s identities, safeguarding the confidentiality of health data.
Beyond preserving the integrity of medical information, blockchain architecture can even provide protection against cyberattacks. Recent studies show that blockchain cybersecurity models for healthcare systems offer advanced solutions for handling security issues in this field by assisting in securely storing sensitive data gathered from various sources and enhancing traceability.
2. Distributed Ledger Technologies Aim to Connect and Simplify Interaction
According to Deloitte, blockchain could improve health information exchanges (HIE) by making electronic medical records more efficient, disintermediated, and secure. Due to its decentralized nature, this technology allows patients and providers to easily and safely share information with each other, creating an ecosystem where doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, and other health providers can quickly access patient data.
Besides keeping information safe and immutable, DLT-based healthcare opens up unique opportunities to tackle processes that are usually tangled and can lead to delays, improving the delivery of healthcare. A clear example is how it simplifies the time-consuming process of granting caregivers’ access to a patient’s medical records.
Leveraging decentralized technology not only enhances trust among all stakeholders but also enables patients to decide with whom they want to share their medical data. This may also facilitate a shift from institution-driven to patient-centered interoperability, empowering patients to set access rules for their medical data.
From a different angle, blockchain initiatives can bring transparency to the pharmaceutical industry’s supply chain, enabling the tracking of information and products from origin to patient. This opens up a myriad of opportunities. For instance, integrating blockchain into the supply chain can help address drug shortages and streamline processes to reduce inventory needs. Traceability can also be applied to cold chain logistics to check product temperature from source to final delivery.
3. Blockchain Can Spur the Development of New Possibilities for Patient Care.
As seen, blockchain can facilitate data sharing among different healthcare providers and systems while maintaining data integrity. Next, let’s have a glimpse into how these advancements can affect patient care.
Among the innovative applications in healthcare, blockchain’s interoperability allows predictive care algorithms to access a broader and more diverse set of patient data, leading to more accurate predictions and insights.
Blockchain can also support real-time updates to patient records and data. This is particularly valuable for predictive care, as it ensures access to the most current and relevant information for detecting problems and suggesting recommendations.
Regarding medical research, smart contracts on the blockchain can manage patient consent for data sharing and research purposes. Having control over who accesses their data, for what purposes, and for how long could encourage patients to take part in predictive care initiatives.
Blockchain also proves to be highly valuable in DNA classification and sequencing to support the early detection of viruses and diseases. The immutable and secure nature of blockchain can ensure the integrity of genetic data, while its decentralized architecture enables efficient and transparent data sharing among research institutions, healthcare providers, and laboratories.
This collaborative approach can speed up the identification and classification of genetic markers associated with specific diseases, enabling a more exact and rapid diagnosis. This could also lead to breakthroughs in early disease detection and the development of personalized treatment strategies.
Leading the Way in Healthcare Transformation Together
Overall, blockchain technology can create a secure, transparent, and collaborative healthcare ecosystem that empowers data-driven predictive care to be more accurate, patient-centric, and effective.
Nearsure’s expertise can bring significant value to healthcare companies aiming to play a leading role in this ongoing transformation. Whether it’s fostering partnerships between healthcare providers, tech companies, and other stakeholders, we actively take part in this evolution by collaborating on the development of cutting-edge technologies and working to enhance the delivery of healthcare services. Contact us to learn more!