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Over the past few years, blockchain technology has become a popular topic for researchers, medical device manufacturers, and patient-care experts alike.
We’ve broken down some of the most interesting aspects of integrating blockchain technology into the healthcare industry.
Secure, Accessible Information
Merriam-Webster defines blockchain as “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.”
In the simplest terms, blockchain stores information in sections that are not owned by a single entity and are accessible based on permissions. Each of these can be accessed and shared, but the original records cannot be edited.
For the healthcare industry, this is incredibly useful and necessary. Blockchain is similar to cloud storage systems, but it is much more secure, because original files are permanent. Plus, since blockchain technology can segment record access by different permission levels, most users are given access only to files that they would need to interact with and nothing more.
Blockchain also features other security measures that cloud storage is lacking, like crypto-graphical storage, immutability of files, and more.
Tracking Made Easy
One of the largest barriers to the medical industry currently is the lack of a master-patient index (MPI). An index of this kind would assign unique identifications to patients so that their health records could be accurately matched to them.
In the past, this has been a struggle in the industry because different institutions rely on separate health record storage systems. Blockchain in the healthcare industry could make these records accessible, regardless of the healthcare entity in question. Records could follow patients throughout their lives, which would improve patient care and outcomes.
An Evolving Technology
Although blockchain has some useful potential applications in the healthcare industry, it is still an emerging technology. Until it has been thoroughly tested and vetted, blockchain will remain a hypothetical solution. By no means will it fix all of the technological hassles that medical professionals face, but it may alleviate some headaches and improve patient care.
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