Blockchain — the Biggest Breakthrough in Healthcare in 50 Years.
Blockchain technology is typically associated with cryptocurrencies, but it can also be applied to new industries — one of which is the medical field. The technology is being explored as a way to create a shared network of healthcare data, and could hold the key to the future of electronic medical records.
New technology is the future of the healthcare industry. While many types of digital technology have transformed the industry, blockchain is one of the biggest breakthroughs in at least half a century. It will shape the industry in everything from protecting medical records, offering better patient packages and streamlining billing.
That’s what Massachusetts General Hospital is hoping, for instance, with the partnership announced this past month with MediBloc, a Korean blockchain startup. The aim is to pilot new DLT-based storage and exchange mechanisms that complement, rather than supplant, its existing electronic health record.
The hospital plans to “explore potentials of blockchain technology to provide secure solutions for health information exchange,” said Synho Do, director of MGH’s Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Computation.
How Medical Records can be protected?
Blockchain provides a better way to store, share and protect sensitive information. Australia and Estonia are already using blockchain to manage health data as well as broker transactions among healthcare providers, patients and insurers.
To be clear, blockchain likely won’t replace electronic health records. The computational intensity of the encryption only allows a handful of transactions to be completed each second. Most electronic health record systems process thousands of transactions per second.
But blockchain is not meant to be a database; it’s meant to serve as a ledger of data integrity. The technology can be used for proof-of-work, integrity and auditing.
Blockchain can prove that medical records are unmodified and complete. It can also document what procedures were done and when. Ultimately, blockchain can help improve patient care while also reducing medical errors that can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. Blockchain ensures the integrity of medical records, providing absolute proof that the medical record cannot be changed.
The technology can also record patient consent for sharing information. Parties seeking to exchange medical data about a patient can refer to the blockchain for permission.
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