This article was written by our colleague Jillian Greene, Associate, Client Experience
Over the last few years, many digital and technological advancements have made their way into the spotlight of the healthcare industry. From telehealth appointments to artificial intelligence innovations, the healthcare system continues to evolve with the digital age, and of these advancements, blockchain technology is rapidly becoming a glorified asset.
If you follow digital trends, you have probably heard the term blockchain before. But what is it? Forbes describes blockchain at its core as, “a distributed digital ledger that stores data of any kind.” However, blockchain has surpassed its counterparts with additional advancements such as storage security, recorded transactions and transparent data history. It is a form of technology that ensures transactions are transparent, accurate and immutable – this is a crucial assurance measure, as we can now validate consistency even when there is a large number of individuals on a blockchain network. Because of this, blockchain has been globally recognized as a transformative technology that has the potential to expand its reach into many different sectors.
But what does this mean for healthcare? Blockchain has a lot of confusion around it and many people are trying to figure out how and where it is best applied. In healthcare – there are two practical applications based on where health is going: patient impact and hedging security breaches. This technology can preserve and exchange patient data, while also avoiding deception and providing transparency between healthcare providers and patients.
One of the major benefits of blockchain is its ability to give personal data ownership to the patient. For years, we have seen consumers push for healthcare professionals to be more transparent with their patients’, given that there can be a lack of trust in the overall healthcare system. Not all communities in the U.S have the same level of trust with their healthcare providers’, and there continues to be disparities in trust based on race/ethnicity, language and access barriers, or stigmas surrounding certain indications.
The transition to blockchain can help patients feel more comfortable by:
• Sharing their medical history
• Equipping them with ownership of their data
• Ensuring greater power over access laws
Thus, ensuring confidentiality of records and receiving notice of any requests to share or update their data. Patient trust in the healthcare system is critical for optimal health outcomes, and the ensured transparency of data can help patients feel more secure.
Diminishing barriers in trust could lead to better self-management as well, as patients have more incentive to remain accountable with routine physicals and healthcare. Treatment plans could also improve as a result of increased profile personalization and efficient data sharing between medical staff. The idea of patient ownership ultimately has the potential to increase patient retention by bridging gaps in access and improving personal health outcomes.
Security continues to be a large issue in the healthcare industry. According to HIPAA Journal, there were 692 large healthcare data breaches reported between July 2021 and June 2022. As a result of this, hackers stole credit card numbers and banking information, as well as health and genomic testing records.
Although blockchain is transparent, heighted security is at the top of its advantages, as patient information is encrypted and stored in a database that conceals their identity. In addition to putting patients in charge of their healthcare data, blockchain is equipped with defense mechanisms to better protect healthcare systems and further ensure patient security.
Overall, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize how patients and healthcare professionals treat and use medical records, while also increasing security in the event of a cyber-attack. The use of this technology in healthcare can improve the patient experience by making patients feel more comfortable.
Tell Us: As the healthcare system continues to move towards a patient-centered approach, where could you best implement blockchain technology to advance your healthcare value?