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How Blockchain Technologies Are Advancing Healthcare
- Michael Jones
Though still an emerging technology in the healthcare industry, blockchains have the potential to transform the U.S. (and global) healthcare industry.
By providing a secure, transparent, and efficient way to store and share information (such as patient healthcare records, prescriptions, diagnostic data across providers, etc.), blockchains are making it possible to improve patient care, reduce costs, and streamline administrative processes. Let’s look at how the healthcare industry is already using blockchain technologies . . .
Blockchain Applications Today
- Electronic health record (EHR) management — blockchains can be used to securely store and share patient health and medical records—where electronic medical records, or EMRs, are “a patient’s medical history that is maintained electronically by a single provider,” explains Forbes, while EHRs represent a “patient’s medical history that is maintained electronically by multiple providers.” This application of blockchains can improve patient care by making it easier for doctors and other healthcare providers to access the information they need to make informed decisions. And blockchain technologies can also help to reduce costs by eliminating the need for duplicate records.
- Clinical trials — here, blockchains can be used to manage clinical trials more efficiently, as by storing clinical data on a blockchain, researchers can track patient progress and outcomes in real time. This can help to improve the efficiency of trials and speed up the development of new treatments. “Blockchain may offer a solution to more easily aggregate health data in a secure, trusted, automated, and error-free way,” notes Deloitte. “A solution which enforces rules, privacy, and regulations in a mutually agreed upon manner, resulting in a smart contract between patient and health care stakeholders can be an important enabler to clinical trials and research.”
- Supply chain management — blockchains can be used to better track the movement of medical supplies and medications with the technologies immutable and transparent recordkeeping. This can help to ensure the safety and quality of these products, and it can also reduce fraud. “Currently, most medical and pharmaceutical supply chains are facing significant logistical challenges, including a lack of real-time visibility into shipment locations, uncertainty transportation disruptions, product quality tracking and verification, cross-border customs reporting across borders, and complicated invoicing and payments,” write Jayendra S. Jadhav and Jyoti Deshmukh in a ScienceDirect article. “A blockchain-based supply chain, on the other hand, could track every step for every item immutably, transparently, and efficiently.”
- Payment processing — blockchains can be used to process payments for healthcare services (patient and insurers), helping to reduce costs and improve efficiency. For example, “Insurers can now work with digital transformation platforms to design and develop blockchain technologies to target specific needs instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Julien Breteau in recent The Digital Insurer article.
- Healthcare research — blockchain data storage and sharing can be readily used to manage the data from healthcare research studies. This use helps to accelerate the pace of research and improve the development of new treatments. “The growing digitization of medical care has advanced the acknowledgment of issues about secure storage, accessing of patients’ medical records, ownership, and medical data from associated sources,” explains a recent National Library of Medicine article. “Blockchain is recommended as a method of addressing critical issues faced by healthcare, for instance, protected sharing of health records and adherence to data privacy laws.”
Universal Blockchain Benefits
As blockchain technologies are tailored to healthcare, the universal benefits of this distributed ledger architecture include stronger security (as data is encrypted and distributed across multiple nodes), greater transparency (as transactions recorded on public blockchains where any node can view them), greater efficiency (automating manual data entry and record keeping processes), and more opportunities for interoperability (as blockchains can connect different healthcare systems and organizations).
ZorroSign for Healthcare
And at ZorroSign, our secure, HIPAA-compliant data security platform built in blockchain supports healthcare organizations with digital records, digital signatures, and document workflows. Our platform ensures:
- Legal enforceability — reducing insurance fraud with digital signatures that are legally binding, tied to the actual person (signatory attribution), and immutable with court-admissible security certificates that never expire
- Digital privacy and security — a platform built on blockchain with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to eliminate the errors of manual processes and transcription with full Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliance
- Cost-savings — through automating patient, diagnostic, insurance, payment, and recordkeeping workflows and digitizing paper applications, forms, and records
- Improved patient services — digitizing your office operations to quickly execute, store, track, and retrieve:
- Claims management, payments, and prior authorization
- Facilities management
- Human resources processes
- Logistics and procurement
- Patient sign-in and consent
- Power of Attorney and Proxy Agreements
- Prescription approval routing
Healthcare providers know the value of serving more patients with the same staff, plus saving costs with digital technologies that help meet regulatory compliance while reducing paper, printing, and storage expenses.
Blockchain technologies are helping meet those needs in healthcare and expanding the patient services healthcare providers can deliver. To learn more, visit our Healthcare industry page or contact ZorroSign today!