Applications and Use Cases

How Blockchain Can Be Applied to Healthcare

December 20, 2021

Data security is a big problem in healthcare.  Medical records are sensitive, personal documents, yet cybersecurity at hospitals and healthcare centers rarely has a full time employee dedicated to it.  Many of these organizations use old software with gaping security holes.  Some hospitals don’t even know which systems run on the devices they rely on to provide care.  While the healthcare industry is dedicated to protecting patient privacy, it cannot achieve its mission without also addressing the cybersecurity needs of the 21st century.  If the industry doesn’t address its unique security vulnerabilities, it will continue to be a lucrative target for hackers.

When a hospital suffers a data breach, the consequences are enormous.  Breaches impact a hospital’s ability to provide care to patients, increasing their 30-day mortality rate.  They cost, on average, $6.5 million to resolve.  That is $429 per patient record compromised.  Small to medium-sized healthcare organizations spend 5% of annual revenue, or $2.5 million, to recover.  These large sums of money include detection and response measures and the need to notify patients, but they also include the damage done to a hospital’s reputation, the loss of patient trust they face, and the downtime during which operations cannot be carried out.

What are some ways healthcare providers can make patient records more secure? 

One solution put forward relies on blockchain technology.  Distributed ledgers for recording transactions and tracking items have been effectively utilized in cryptocurrency and non-fungible token (NFT) markets.  Companies new and old now believe it also has promising applications in healthcare.  Were wearable medical devices connected to a patient’s health record via the blockchain, it could provide a secure way for health professionals to assess real time patient data.  Care would become more personalized and transparent.  Furthermore, the blockchain offers a sense of security not easily matched by other systems.

Another place blockchain can improve the healthcare industry is in the provision of telehealth.  Right now, a major issue in telehealth is the lack of security controls over the collection, use, and sharing of data on platforms used for telehealth.  When medical records are stored on secure, fragmented systems, data can be exchanged seamlessly without concern over third-party access.  Turning patients’ health data into an NFT, specifically, could give them more control over their own data.  Providers can be sure the data is genuine thanks to the ownership record that comes with NFTs.  This would also reduce the chances of identity theft and fraud.

Some companies that are pursuing the incorporation of blockchain into healthcare are Chronicled, Curisium, Ever Medical Technologies, and Patientory, Inc.  The MediLedger Network of Chronicled has a secure peer-to-peer messaging network that prioritized privacy in its design.  This mostly allows communication between trading partners.  Curisium, on the other hand, is focused on using blockchain to foster rebate negotiation and contract management. 

Their system would enable providers and payers to participate in innovative contracting arrangements in an efficient, secure manner.  Healthcare on the blockchain could be game changing.

Edited by Erik Linask



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