By now everyone knows about Bitcoin and the blockchain. However, not everyone understands how the blockchain works and how the technology can be employed in other fields.
Well, believe it or not, the ground-breaking technology that makes possible to send/receive Bitcoins and another cryptocurrency, can also help Health Care and fix some of its problems.
Do you want to know how? Keep on reading to find out how the blockchain solves the Health Care privacy crisis.
What’s the Health Care crisis?
Have you ever asked yourself what makes a Health Care reform so difficult? You’d be right to think that money has a big role, but it’s not the only problem.
While the Affordable Care Act aims to offer low-priced health insurances and expands Medicaid, it also means that the government is spending more money than ever on Health Care. And if it wants to make reforms, it will need even more money.
However, the big issue is the lack of interoperability. For example, your medal provider keeps your records, but if you fall ill in another hospital in another state, it will take time for the doctors to get access to those records. That time is the difference between life and death in some cases.
Unfortunately, interoperability goes hand at hand with the patient’s privacy and his medical record protection. That’s a subject the government takes very seriously.
That’s why the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was amended in 2013 to protect the patient’s confidence and to make sure that the data was accessible only on “need to know” basis so that no one can ask to see your files to check your health status.
The act also strongly opposed the idea of storing medical records on centralized servers. That’s not such a bad thing when you think about it, because hackers nowadays hack government’s sites and servers. So, it’s easy for them can access medical records and use them for nefarious purposes.
So, the main question is how to keep the patient’s records private and make interoperability work. If the government can do it, it can improve the efficiency of the Health Care system and cut down expenses.
How could the blockchain solve the Health Care Privacy crisis?
The blockchain technology is a complicated subject, so I’m going to keep it as short and easy to understand as possible. Think about the blockchain as a ledger or a database that is shared between all participants. Before you can add any new information or a block, it has to be checked and verified to ensure that it’s valid.
The blockchain can have numerous application in the Health Care. For example, since the information on the blockchain would be encrypted and validated by the participants, it would be nearly impossible for hackers to gain access to it.
If hackers want to give it a go, they will have to hack the whole system to change something in a file or peek in someone’s records. So, your personal data is going to be far more secure than on a centralized server.
In addition to this, once you add something to the blockchain, you can’t remove it because it’s already connected to the other blocks. So, when you fall ill in another state or a city, doctors would be able to access the blockchain immediately and see your medical records. What’s more, since you can’t change the medical records, it guarantees their integrity.
In this way, doctors will have all the information about your preexisting condition, which can save the patient’s life. Not to mention that it will cut down the medical costs because doctors will narrow down the tests needed to be done.
What’s more, the blockchain will help you upload information from your wearable devices and medical apps, so that you can keep in touch with your doctor.
For example, if you have high blood pressure and you keep tabs on it using a blood pressure app, you can upload the data to the blockchain, and your doctor will review it and suggest how to proceed. That would make Health Care much more efficient.
In addition to this, the blockchain might be useful for:
- Tracking clinical trial information
- Monitoring epidemics
- Analyzing data anonymously
- Keep records of physician licenses
What are the downsides the blockchain technology in Health Care?
According to 8bit Sumo, one of the biggest concerns about using the blockchain to solve the Health Care privacy crisis is that it’s not completely HIPAA compliant and its implementation might require a change in the law.
Also, some critics of the system point out that the data is still not as secure as you would hope. The miners, the people who are going to run the Health Care blockchain, would still have access to the medical files. So, it would have to have some safety measures to prevent anyone from abusing the information.
What’s more, it’s worth remembering that Bitcoin miners get a small portion of Bitcoin for every transaction they validate. So, the miners in the Health Care blockchain would also have to receive some incentive to keep the system working. What’s more, we shouldn’t forget that running such a blockchain would require a significant computing power.
The last thing we shouldn’t forget is that since the system is decentralized, it won’t be under the control of the government. So, critics ask who would be responsible if something goes amiss.
As you can see, the blockchain has many advantages that could be implemented to reform the Health Care and make it more efficient and low-cost. However, there are still some problematic areas to work upon if the government ever hopes to implement the blockchain in the health sector.
What do you think on the subject? Can the blockchain solve the Health Care privacy crisis? Tell us in the comments.