Blockchain technology | A state of the art application in health care

blockchain technology

Introduction

Business people and organizations have widely embraced digital methods of recording transactions. To survive and beat their rivals their data should be so secure online; Blockchain technology offers one of the most popular and the best available methods of obtaining online data.

The blockchain is a ledger that digitally records transactions chronologically in a format that cannot be modified. This makes verification and auditing of operations cheap to the involved parties.

Stuart Haber and W. Scott Storr Netta were the first people to describe blockchain and its secure chain blocks in 1991; Ross J. Anderson made a publication about this cryptographically secured blocks in 1996.

In 1998, Nick Szabo was working on a digital currency he called Bitgold. In 2008, the trials and theories of blockchain technology materialized. Satoshi Nakamoto confirmed the concept and implementation followed in the subsequent years.

The idea was mainly conceptualized to make databases secure without requiring a trusted administrator. According to “The Economist,“ this platform allows users to share certificates safely and write sophisticated contracts. The blockchain technology is not just limited to monetary exchange alone, when key elements such as scalability and data privacy, it can be applied in health care.

Application of blockchain technology for health care

Advancements in Information Technology (IT) has led to the development of various large programs and software of health information, tools for health data tracking are now a reality. This product is the most suitable software for recording medical reports. Blockchain, to be used for health care needs to be public and incorporate: scalability, data security, access security and other technological key elements.

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Some of the possible applications of blockchain in the medical industry include:

  • Privacy and Safety: Ensures sophisticated permission setting in support of data encryption for third parties to improve the security. Peer to peer networking promotes integrity and accountability hence trusted and authentic data exchange.
  • Management of population health: It keeps records of results that influence corrective actions through the Personal Health Record (PHR) system. For example the cases of polio and its vaccines.
  • Identity verification: This concept is used in Registration of an electronic health record (EHR), health insurance and other healthcare status records.
  • Counterfeit drug detection: This technology is employed in the pharmaceutical supply chain to prevent the counterfeit supply drugs.
  • Clinical drug results: Administrations require the submission of food and drug test results. Blockchain adds integrity and accountability the process of reporting the clinical trial reports.

What are some of its advantages?

Based on commodity hardware and open API’s, Blockchain offers a variety of benefits to the health care IT platform.

Some of the advantages of  the technology in health care include:

  • Solving interoperability problems: Through the use of Open API’s, health IT systems integrate and exchange data in the health ecosystem. The easy- to- work with nature eliminate the need for the development of a complex data system.
  • It is readily available for public use: Researchers, patients and healthcare practitioners can access the data stored in its database with great ease. It also supports a broad range of sources including from mobile applications, wearable devices, documents, and images.
  • The blockchain is compatible with protocols and standard algorithms for data encryption. This promotes user data security.
  • Data stored in this platform can be quickly distributed servers in different areas without single failure or disaster.

Challenges faced in its implementation in the medical industry

  • The cost of operation: The cost of fully operating this software is not yet precisely known. But, about the amount of resources governments and health organizations have dedicated on the current information systems, Blockchain, which is much sophisticated will be much expensive.
  • Scalability constraints: The ever-increasing number of subscribers make transactions slower, it requires a lot of time and resources to evolve and upgrade the technology to accommodate the huge number of user at a time.
  • Incentives and adoption for participation: For the idea to materialize, two necessary incentives must be available: an interconnected network of computers to create blocks upon submission of a transaction and monetary incentives in the form of crypto-currency to encourage lending of computing power by individuals.

Can the healthcare IT problems be solved by blockchain technology?

The blockchain is under discussion for consideration as a way of securing data; it offers a potential solution to the challenge of health IT vendors having to capitalize on cybersecurity for a safe health databank. Interoperability and the need for the connection data silos for increased seamless delivery systems and improved patient safety also lie within the domain of emerging solutions.

Blockchain companies

  1. Kraken: Based in San Francisco in the US, Kraken is a digital trading agency that is fully compliant, it is a FOREX platform for digital currencies such Bitcoin. The platform is run by a team of early embracers of online money including Jesse Powel.
  1. Hello, Black: specifically designed for developers, HelloBlock, is a Bitcoin platform based in San Francisco, the infrastructure is run by a team led by Sydney Zhang.
  1. Md is a healthcare data platform that leverages asymmetric cryptography with a system whereby every healthcare provider can issue identity tokens to its subscribers hence securing communication and sharing of data across the entire healthcare database.

Conclusion

Establishing a broad and comprehensive health IT data structure is the most efficient approach to beat the quest for a modernized health care database.

Based on open standards, it addresses the problem of interoperability as it provides a shared view of medical records.

The technology, if utilized properly has the potential to improve the security of health care data and at the same time serve a large number of users with simple but secure access. The key players in the health IT system, therefore, should consider incorporating the services of blockchain in the affairs of health IT.

Image credit: www.istockphoto.com

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