Although cryptocurrencies are currently on a downward-sloping curve when it comes to their values, the underlying blockchain technology is growing relentlessly. This is because the technology itself has very little to do with the actual market of digital coins. On the contrary, blockchain systems are an invention that will be beneficial to the world even if the cryptocurrencies fail. So, what are some ways that the healthcare industry can leverage this trend in order to improve its operations and efficiency?
Getting Around the Central Administrator
According to Dr. Eldor Brish, a healthcare and medical professional in Austin, TX, the healthcare industry is still highly dependent on online databases. After all, everything from hospitals’ procedures to patients’ files must be stored in a place where accessibility is not an issue. Well, although these databases employ an arsenal of protective layers, they can be breached by an experienced hacker. In case that happens, the hospital in question could be facing liability and losses the likes of which destroy major institutions.
With blockchain, however, security is not taking a backseat in order to have a central administrator. For those unfamiliar, this is an authority figure that controls all transactions happening in a database. Through them, unfortunately, hackers could gain access since administrators’ privileges present an area of vulnerability. This is where the decentralized aspect of blockchain systems comes in handy.
Since cryptocurrencies operate as user-to-user networks absent authority figures, hackers cannot find central accounts to hack through. This, in turn, makes it that much more difficult to gain access to any blockchain-based database in healthcare. For professionals like the aforementioned anesthesiologist, Dr. Eldor Brish, blockchain would mean greater security for confidential information.
Fraud Prevention and Research
In 2016, Medicare fraud caused north of $30 million in losses to the federal government in the United States. Although blockchain would not immediately eliminate this figure, it would severely cripple one’s ability to steal from the healthcare system. The way that people could achieve such a feat is through automated billing, security contracts, and so on.
Additionally, the research that is conducted in medicine could be much more efficient with decentralized systems. Consider, for example, how cryptocurrency networks like Ethereum operate via something called “smart contracts”. Although these have very little to do with the actual paper-based contracts, they are a great way to transact. The way it is done revolves around online coding where someone’s payment, per se, is distributed only after they complete the predetermined action. In clinical research, this could be used to optimize patient studies and speed up the feedback process for drug testing.
Administrative Tasks and Costs
It is no secret that the U.S. is home to one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. Although the charges often pertain to specialists that the patients require, there are many more line items that people overlook. For instance, an average medical bill will also include things like administrative service, billing charges, and more. With blockchain systems, these could potentially be reduced and eliminated.
First, consider how much work goes into every medical procedure. More specifically, the work that relates to overseeing the back-end side of the venture. This involves everything from gathering the right supplies to properly interacting with the insurance company of the patient. Expectedly, countless chargeable hours are needed in order to facilitate successful dealings. For patients, however, this opens the door to a bottomless pit of medical expenses that reach the thousands before they even begin the healing stage.
A Shift in Jobs
If blockchain were to be implemented, the administrative side of the process could be automated. Going back to the notion of smart contracts, the entire interaction with the insurance company could become a line of code. For instance, the blockchain could create a system where the insurance company pays upon proper completion of the patient’s treatment. That way, the need for administrative assistants, billing experts, and insurance representatives would be nonexistent.
Although some may see a negative connotation related to the job elimination, there are many benefits that come out of it. The most important includes additional positions for those who specialize in digital systems like blockchain. And since the entire network is just starting to dominate the market, people certainly have time to learn how to navigate it!