Health Technology

What is Blockchain in Healthcare and How Does it Work?

What is Blockchain in Healthcare and How Does it Work?
Written by Shikha Mehta

Did you know that doctors can access all your medical records from a database? There is a technology, called blockchain in healthcare that maintains a complete record of your complete medical history.

Ever since e-health services have started coming up, most of its utilization has been made in maintaining all your medical records. These records have details of all your previous medical conditions so far, the medicines prescribed to you, and any operations you may have gone through. As any new disease, infection, or injury comes up, you can update it in the database.

What do you mean by a blockchain?

If you know how Bitcoin works, then perhaps you’re briefly aware of what a blockchain is. It is a technology that stores information in multiple blocks. Every real-time update you make goes to a separate block, adding to the chain.

To understand this better, consider the layout of an Excel workbook. Each sheet of the workbook is a block while the complete file is a blockchain.

One block consists of information that you add on a particular date and time. If you met with an accident 5 years ago, its report goes to one block. 3 years later, you get a disease. This information goes into another block.

This way, currently you have plenty of information in your blockchain – everything that has ever happened to you, the treatments and procedures you’ve gone through, and your current medical condition.

Every subsequent addition of a block is made to the end of the blockchain.

To put it together, a blockchain is a technology that maintains a public record of information or transactions of a particular nature which can be accessed through a network.

How is Blockchain in Healthcare Used?

Currently, the healthcare industry uses blockchain for storing patient details. There are several blockchain healthcare applications which store a patient’s complete medical history.

Gone are the days when hospitals would maintain healthcare records only on one server. Today, the network maintains them, so that any doctor, nurse, or hospital for that matter can have access to your medical history.

Now, you may be wondering that in this way, literally, anyone can have access to your personal medical records. Well, the answer is no. The main benefit of using blockchain in healthcare is that it protects your data completely.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1

Through the app, you input the data regarding your medical history. It involves providing details of all major diseases, infections, ailments, injuries, and operations you’ve been through. You add your current situation too.

Step 2

Blockchain technology verifies the information it receives and encrypts it completely. Thus, you’ll have a unique ID for your blockchain through which you or your doctor can access your records. This technology is similar to a digital signature, which is encrypted by a hash function.

Step 3

You need to add every subsequent report of your condition and treatment in the app. Every input you make acts as a “block” which is added to the end of the chain of records, thus forming a blockchain.

Step 4

Whenever you’re hospitalized and need to be operated or treated, your doctor uses the records present in your blockchain. You need to give him the ID so that he can have access to your medical history. He uses it to ensure what may work best for you.

What are the Other Applications of a Blockchain?

Blockchain technology came out in 2009, initially for maintaining Bitcoin transactions. However, this technology is completely independent and used by many other industries.

In the medical industry, there are several other uses of blockchain for recording healthcare data. Apart from patient history, it is also useful for maintaining the supply chain and handling the genomics market.

Apart from cryptocurrencies and the healthcare industry, the following sectors use blockchain:

  • Banks
  • Recording property rights
  • Smart contracts
  • Supply chain management
  • Elections

Blockchain is a safe method of maintaining records and transactions due to its double encryption. Once a record is verified, no one can change it or tamper with it.

Thus, using blockchain in healthcare is both safe and convenient for doctors to treat you with efficiency. Don’t you think it will save their time if they just know your condition through a digital medium?

About the author

Shikha Mehta

I discovered my talent in writing while I was in high school. Since then, I discovered the joy of sharing your knowledge with people around you. This is the reason why I love making my contributions to Insights of Technology. Being a certified content writer, I have been writing on several topics, science & technology being one of my favorites.

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