Nearly 90 percent of healthcare organizations suffer data breaches according to the Ponemon Institute.  The level of data breaches is predicted to continue to grow. What if there was a technology to better encrypt our health data, while also providing improved access to comprehensive health data for a patient? The quality of healthcare would rise, patient satisfaction would increase by leaps and bounds and costs would likely fall. Sound idylic?
The blockchain is an ingenious invention originally implemented and made infamous by it’s use for Bitcoins. Blockchain facilitates secure transactions through the internet. Blockchain has been proven secure enough that it is being implemented in financial and homeland security applications as well as many other industries. It utilizes sophisticated cryptography to secure the information, and blocks of data that are added over time to provide comprehensive information. The Economist stated it well, calling blockchain “the trust machine” and “the great chain of being sure about things”.
How can blockchain be used in Healthcare IT?
Blockchain facilitates the secure storage and sharing of ‘the chain of data’ exceedingly well. Over time, for a patient, the chain grows as there is more data that exists for that patient. Every set of data is time-stamped and becomes part of the the chain that cannot be tampered with once recorded. Permissions are set so that privacy can be maintained. When an authorized user of that data gains access, the entire history is available from all sources at once. The data can be shared real-time across institutions.
The application of blockchain to healthcare took a few significant steps forward in 2016. Organizations including the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Health Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) in Washington, D.C are engaged in furthering efforts in research and use. 94% of healthcare organizations plan to finance blockchain implementation in their medical / health records applications.
Barriers to implementation most cited include immature technology, insufficient skills and regulatory constraints. The least cited barrier is insufficient business case. The potential benefits are clear, it’s a market ripe for the solution.
- "Blockchain - Secured way of transaction". iFour Technolab Pvt. Ltd. Retrieved 2016-11-15.