With so much of patients’ data fragmented across disparate systems, especially in countries outside the US like India, the global healthcare industry is in dire need of a revolutionary electronic health record (EHR) system. Fortunately, we live in a tech-forward era that is plentiful with the resources necessary to incite change within current healthcare systems. One such technology that has the potential to revolutionize data-driven healthcare is the blockchain.
What is the blockchain?
The blockchain in its simplest terms is a public, immutable ledger that uses cryptography to keep exchanges. While the public aspect may not be so fitting for medical records, the immutability and availability across all systems are. Privatized blockchains exist for this very reason, and a blockchain-based EHR would provide efficiently, and the most secure, universal access of electronic health records to make sure patient information doesn’t get lost or compromised.
Effects of a privatized blockchain for healthcare (EHR) systems
Additionally, when patients move between medical practices, a privatized blockchain system would allow for easy and secure record transfers without the need for involving patients in picking up paperwork and files. In the current system, many EHR systems cannot easily communicate with each other, and often need patient involvement to transfer files between systems, causing more work for the patient and the practice and potential for data breaches.
Unlike a traditional filing system or online system, one breach could lead to a much larger one, but if files are entered into a blockchain and not held in one computer system, they are safe from breaches. Even small mistakes could be attributed to a user or patient with the ability to have identities and actions recorded in a blockchain system.
Blockchain-based EHR systems on a common data platform
Big data represents the next-generation opportunity for data-driven organizations because business users are able to view their data in more specific ways. The common data platform (CDP) is the foundation for data-driven healthcare, moving beyond MRP, ERP, and traditional data warehousing. CDP is a unified data collection, retention management, and bulk data storage solution for structured and unstructured data, historical and active data with data governance, and advanced analytics applications to help healthcare organizations achieve data-driven business results.
Coupled with the blockchain, data-driven healthcare on the common data platform has the potential to reduce lost medical records, fraud, and improve overall accessibility with the help of machine learning and advanced analytics. More importantly, the current prescriptive model can be moved to predictive and preventive.
Beyond EHR: Blockchain for all healthcare
The implications of a blockchain system go beyond the traditional medical office. Aside from safer files, a privatized blockchain system could reduce rates of pharmaceutical theft and insurance fraud because all information must be verified and recorded by a patient, provider, and transporter. This system could also safely promote exchanges of data for clinical trials when they are being conducted in multiple locations.
Europe already taking steps
Europe has already begun to implement efforts to utilize blockchain systems in its healthcare practices, and it’s time that more healthcare companies in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world do the same, to better the lives of patients and improve operations for healthcare organizations.