The healthcare industry has undergone enormous changes in the last decade, and there are additional disruptions to come. From the adoption of the Affordable Care Act to the continuing rise in health insurance premiums, these disruptions have had an enormous impact on patients, doctors and everyone who interacts with this vital industry.
Those changes to the healthcare industry have been well documented and extensively publicized, but there is a looming disruption that has thus far received far less press. That disruption is being made possible by the blockchain, a technology better known for making cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum possible.
If you are not familiar with the upcoming disruption in the healthcare industry, you are not alone. Few people outside the industry, and a small minority inside it, truly grasp the transformative power of the blockchain. Affordable Healthcare 123 Tees looks at a few ways blockchain technology will impact and transform the world of healthcare in the coming years.
Verifying the Accuracy of Health Records
Until now, it has been notoriously difficult to verify the provenance, or the accuracy, of healthcare records, and that lack of certainty could put the health and safety of patients at risk. The problem of fake medical records and the rewriting of healthcare information has been a big problem, one that leads to fraud, waste and abuse – and to real danger for the patients involved.
In the future, blockchain technology could make verifying the accuracy and tracing the origin of healthcare records easier. The blockchain provides a permanent record of everything that has happened in the life of the patient, from the tests they have received and the results that have been generated to the specialists they have seen and the illnesses they have fought. The technology responsible for the cryptocurrency revolution could help keep patients safe while fighting fraud and helping healthcare professionals do their jobs more effectively.
Protecting Patients from Medical ID Theft
Identity theft has been a major issue for many years now, but there is a looming danger many are not currently aware of. As the defenses against traditional forms of identity theft are shoring up, criminals are turning their sites to what has thus far been a much easier target.
Cases of medical identity theft are on the rise, and that is bad news for patients, doctors, insurers and everyone else in the healthcare industry. The reasons behind medical ID theft are many, but the results are often the same – high costs, unpaid bills and chaos for patients and their family.
No matter what the reason behind the rise in medical ID theft, the healthcare industry has had a real problem fighting it. Armed with the power of the blockchain and the robust ledger that underlies it, future healthcare executives could uncover medical ID theft in its earliest stages – stopping it in its tracks and protecting patients in the process.
Allowing for Secure Sharing of Healthcare Data
One of the most touted benefits of the Affordable Care Act was the easy sharing of medical records, but the reality has fallen far short of the promise. While some progress has been made, healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical clinics still face an uphill task when it comes to sharing patient information.
These challenges are many, from incompatible software and back-end systems to a lingering reluctance to adopt new forms of technology. Once again, the power of the blockchain could make sharing healthcare records, from test results and treatment protocols to prescription drugs and upcoming screening tests, easier and more secure.
The distributed nature of the blockchain seems custom made for this purpose. With blockchain, everyone who comes in contact with a particular patient, from the doctors and nurses in the emergency room to the pharmacist who administers an annual flu shot, can have access to the same set of information. Better still, that data can be updated on the fly and shared securely with anyone who needs it.
By now it is clear that the healthcare industry is in desperate need of innovation, and those advances could come in the form of blockchain technology. So while the pundits and financial experts debate the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, healthcare professionals are quietly working behind the scenes, ushering in a new world of blockchain-enabled healthcare.
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