The straggling U.S. healthcare sector has difficulty managing patient information whereby each hospital, doctor, insurance company, therapist, medical office and pharmacy requires sundry pieces of data to appropriately care for patients.
These important records are randomly distributed everywhere on each business' computers. They're not maintained up-to-date with all current information, as a patient's health prescriptions vary or new X-rays are made, and they're are uneath to share particularly from one individual provider to another.
For example, in Boston, many medical offices use over 2 dozen different systems to store electronic health records, yet none of them communicates directly with the others, hence presenting bigger opportunities for various hackers to modify, hack, delete or steal records either for a certain individual or for the all patients. In an emergency, many doctors may be unable to have important medical information since it's kept somewhere else and this can lead to direct harm to some patients.
There might be an escape route, toward a proper health care structure where all patients have updated and more accurate health records that are fully secure against illegal snooping or tampering, and the data will be kept in a manner that allows it to be easily and quickly shared to every provider or health worker that needs it.
Blockchain technology, popularly known for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum, are networks of databases kept in various places which use securely encrypted messages to easily connect with one another via the Internet. Information can't be deleted though it can be updated only by legally permitted users, whose full identities are properly recorded along with their actions.
The data of patients will be securely kept for decades and in case of any human errors during data entry, it is easy to quickly correct and track down. Even patients could be allowed to review, update and add relevant information about their own health conditions. Both fraud and hacking would be very hard.
There are several blockchain systems, each with its own security practices and methods, but many developers are making ends meet to enable them to connect with each other and also make the process of collecting records cheaper, more efficient and faster than today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also creating blockchain-based systems in order to share data on pathogens that are threatening, fully analyse outbreaks, and also properly handle the response to the high public health crisis. It will also help in tracking of opioid use and abuse.
Clinical trials, too, will get more benefits from the blockchain technology. Currently, patchy data and poor information among almost all health players participating in clinical trials pose weighty problems. This may also help Drug Discovery and Development processes to get similar benefits.
Currently, Pharmaceutical companies oversee drug shipments and delivery via an inefficient web of scattered databases. Last year, Pfizer and several other drugmakers proclaimed their full support for MediLedger, wanting to thoroughly transfer those tasks to a blockchain, the same way Walmart does it in tracking its food shipments.
Europe gives similar examples and important guides for the U.S efforts to apply effective Blockchain technologies in the healthcare industry.
In 2016, the European Union started funding heavily a multinational collaboration with various privacy companies and top research universities to develop an effective Blockchain system that would perfectly aggregate and share biomedical info across healthcare organisations and patients themselves in the EU.