Have you ever faced black marketing in pharmacies or false treatment charges by healthcare organizations? If yes, then it’s possible in the past or by an organization that does not use blockchain for healthcare data management.
When blockchain was new, it was directly associated with Bitcoin. However, today it is a separate technology used by many other sectors like banking, healthcare and manufacturing.
The healthcare industry has a lot more data than records of their patients. The entire supply chain of medicines and other supplies – begins from clinical research and ends at either clinical trials or the patient using it for treatment.
From here, we come to one important question.
What do You Mean by Healthcare Data Management?
Data management in any field includes 3 main tasks – storing of data, processing the data, and analyzing it. So, healthcare data management would be the process of storing, processing & analyzing of the following:
- The supply chain of medical drugs & equipment
- Patient’s complete medical history
- Medical insurances of patients
- Billing details of patients
- Other costs incurred by healthcare organizations on research & trials
How do Medical Organizations Use Blockchain for Healthcare Data Management?
When we talk about medical organizations, it doesn’t restrict to hospitals and clinics. Any organization that takes care of your healthcare needs comes under this category. Thus, pharmacies, research labs, and manufacturers of medical equipment also belong to this category.
In order to understand how healthcare data management works, you need to see how the industry works:
- Research labs develop new medicines, vaccines, and technology for treatment
- Manufacturers produce the medicines and equipment needed for treatment
- Hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies buy from these manufacturers
- Patients avail services from the equipment and buy medicines
Now, the blockchain will keep a record of everything – the movement of every unit of medical supplies, the history of every patient, and identifying all the organizations involved in the above process.
To understand better, we break the usage of blockchain in managing healthcare data into 5 different categories:
Managing Digital Identity
A blockchain records patient details and movement of medical supplies for them. Every patient has a unique ID on the blockchain healthcare app where he or she registers. Likewise, producers, pharmacies, and clinics have a unique ID and so does every item they buy & sell has one.
Thus, blockchain technology provides a digital identity to all users and sellers of medical supplies as well as to the products.
Better Maintenance & Access of Records
One main reason why all hospitals started using blockchain in healthcare is to have easier access to patient records. When a global network maintains them instead of a server, it is much simpler to know a patient’s history even if he’s new.
In a blockchain, the records of a patient a verified, secure, non-editable, and non-removable. So, if you register on any of the apps, it will store your medical history, purchases and insurance records for good.
Thus, a hospital can verify all these details to give you better treatment and verify your insurance.
Supply Chain Management & Preventing Illegal Sales
A medical supply chain is a lot longer than it seems. It involves all the raw materials purchased by the producer manufacturing medicines and equipment used in hospitals. Even clinics that conduct medical tests on patients are linked here.
Say you want to track the supply chain of a syringe. The needle, plastic, and tube are all manufactured in different places and acquired by one producer. He makes the syringe and sells it to the pharmacy or hospital. From a pharmacy, a patient will purchase it and from a hospital, a doctor uses it on the patient.
So, you can track the entire journey of the syringe. If a pharmacy tries selling it for black or a hospital misuses it, this malpractice will be caught. This is because government authorities can track these movements.
Tracking Clinical Trials
This is another expense made by the healthcare industry which is actually hidden from the rest of the world. There are research labs where scientists conduct experiments to produce new medicines and equipment for treatment and prevention.
Vaccines, medicines, and procedures like transplants and radiation therapy are all first tested in the lab. The supply chain of materials acquired for conducting these experiments as well as a record of volunteers undertaking trials is maintained in a blockchain.
This helps to track the progress of every clinical trial. In the current scenario, these clinical trials are visible to you as you know plenty of scientists around the world are developing vaccines for Covid-19. Tracking all of them through blockchain helps reporters provide you with the current status regarding the research.
Managing Billing Claims
On one side, you have supply chain management to keep track of stock. On another side, you have records of patients that enables doctors to provide better service. The third side is maintaining cash flows for all organizations.
In order to prevent false insurance claims and fraud on payment by patients, blockchain records all finances related to the patient. Every bill and medical insurance has a unique ID that is connected to the patient, hospital, and insurer’s IDs.
Benefits of Maintaining Healthcare Data Using Blockchain
There are several benefits of using blockchain in healthcare. Coming to healthcare data management, here’s how blockchain has proved to be helpful:
- Improves interaction between patients and doctors
- Enables doctors to treat patients more efficiently
- Prevents fraudulent activities from the end of organizations and patients
- Makes it easier to manage and monitor smooth workflow and cash flow in organizations
Blockchain has proven to be a technology that maintains transparency. Many more countries, organizations, and individuals are yet to start utilizing this technology. Once the whole world starts using blockchain for healthcare data management, the efficiency of the technology will improve even more.