7 Ways to Leverage Blockchain Technology in Health Care

7 Ways to Leverage Blockchain Technology in Health Care

  • Exorbitant medical costs and market access incentives for pharma companies are making value-based health care an increasingly attractive alternative to fee-for-service models
  • Legacy EMR/EHRs operate in silos that lack interoperability and integration
  • Blockchain technology is creating new efficiencies in the current health care IT ecosystem
February 01, 2022 | Healthcare Blogs

The current health care scenario

In the US, health care spending grew 9.7% in 2020, reaching $4.1 trillion or $12,530 per person. The average per-capita expenses of comparable wealthy OECD countries were $5,500.

The National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) is estimated to reach $6.2 trillion by 2028 and account for almost 20% of GDP. This growth has raised concerns about the country’s ability to provide fiscally responsible health care services. Large numbers of proposals are cropping up to counter rising US health care expenditures, including:

  • Policies planned to achieve price transparency
  • Alternatives to traditional fee-for-service compensation (value-based care and capitation system)
  • Antitrust enforcement
  • Simplification of administration

In addition to higher costs, privacy and data breach concerns are afflicting the health care sector. Hospital data breaches increased by 55.1% nationwide in 2020, affecting around 26.4 million people in the US and costing hospitals around $13.2 billion.

All these inefficiencies in health care can be eliminated with innovative technologies that work in tandem with policy changes. Blockchain can improve health care operations by protecting patient data, reducing spending and improving the overall experience.

How is blockchain technology applied in the health care sector?

1. Securing Patient Data

Securing important medical data is the most popular blockchain application in health care, as it can keep an incorruptible, decentralized and transparent data log.

Blockchain can also protect the identity of patients with complex and secure codes (e.g., BurstIQ and Factom).

2. Removing inefficiencies in EMR/EHR

Current health care information technology (EMRs/EHRs) is extremely antiquated and operates in silos. The decentralized nature of blockchain can provide an ecosystem of patient data that can be accessed easily and quickly for referencing doctors, hospitals and other parties involved in patient care.

The administrative burden (which is 1/4th to 1/3rd of all US health care spending) is also alleviated with automation using blockchain technology.

3. Making electronic health records more patient-centric

The current Health Information Exchange (HIE) is founded on an opt-in or opt-out model for consent to share highly sensitive information. Blockchain would allow for more tailored consent provisions and ensure that requests for information withholding are properly recorded and available. In the future, patients can be seen taking the full onus of their data and its access (e.g., MedicalChain).

4. Enhancing medicine supply chain management and drug traceability/safety

Counterfeit drugs are hitting the market which can have serious consequences for patients, health care providers and drug manufacturers.

Blockchain helps prevent counterfeiting in pharmaceutical supply chain management. Once a ledger for a drug is created, it will track the origin and will then continue to record data on every step of the way, until it reaches the end consumer (e.g., MediLedger-Chronicled, Tierion and Blockpharma)

5. Creating smart contracts

Blockchain-based systems can be used by pharmaceutical companies, device OEMs, wholesalers and hospitals to authenticate their identities as organizations, log contract details, track transactions and settle payments. (e.g., Chronicled and Curisium)

6. Verifying medical staff credentials

Before a physician officially joins an employer, organizations must confirm their credentials, such as education and license. It takes more than 120 days for physician data and contract information to be manually checked, reconciled and audited. With blockchain, this process can be shortened to a few days. (e.g., ProCredEx)

7. Implementing Value-based Healthcare (VBHC)

VBHC positions the patient’s role at the forefront. This fundamentally altered approach requires that patient data be sharable across health care providers. Blockchain technology is a key enabler of VBHC, as it aligns all the major stakeholders into one decentralized platform.

Blockchain addresses health care inefficiencies while improving transparency, accuracy and privacy

Blockchain shows promise to transform the health care industry. To reap the benefits of this technology, the stakeholders of health care (patient, provider, payer and pharma companies) must increase their collaborative efforts to enable further innovation and accountability among all parties.

With the increased adoption of value-based care, blockchain remains at the forefront of technological innovation in the health care sector. It has the potential to drive billions in cost savings and generate new innovations in a data-driven future.

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