Healthcare is one of the most targeted sectors for a country’s growth. Applications of Blockchain in healthcare can improve the situation. It can do many things, from providing secure encryption of patient information to handling epidemics.
Estonia is a forerunner in this field, having begun to harness the power of blockchain in healthcare in 2012. Currently, its entire healthcare billing, 95% of health data, and 99% of prescription information are digitally maintained via blockchain.
What is Blockchain Technology?
The term ‘Blockchain’ means a shared set of records, transactional history, each block containing information and followed by another block. This information is stored in the form of hash keys.
These keys or signatures are stored in shared ledgers, joined by a mesh of nodes, or processes that connect them. Each node has a copy of the whole chain, being constantly synchronized and kept up to date.
The advantages of blockchain technology, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), include its tamper-resistant nature, the decentralized nature of the digital ledgers, and the impossibility of changing a published transaction subsequently within the user community that shares the ledger. This technology is also called distributed ledger technology (DLT).
Advantages and disadvantages of Blockchain
Some major concerns with blockchain technology in healthcare include:
- Network infrastructure security at all levels
- Verification and authentication of all the users
- Uniform patterns of authorization to access electronic health information
DLT can be useful in many healthcare activities, but all areas within healthcare do not work in terms of transactions. However, public blockchains cannot be used to store private information such as identifying health data, because the data in them is widely accessible. This transparency mandates that providers consider privacy issues to ensure protected health information (PHI).
Moreover, blockchain technology is sensitive to some cyberattacks, even after having protection better than others. The blockchain code lays it open to zero-day attacks and bugs, as well as social engineering. Therefore, information security must be paid intensive attention especially when used in healthcare.
Blockchain technology should not be used indiscriminately in healthcare, since its data is immutable. Large files, or those which change often, may be kept out. All identifying data should be kept off the chain.
Distributed Ledger Technology experts comment, “With new regulations on the rise, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in conjunction with regulations that have been around for more than a decade, such as HIPAA, patient privacy is now a standard when considering processing any form of PHI.”
The benefits of using blockchains, relative to traditional methods of healthcare database management systems, include decentralized management, unchangeable databases, data provenance, traceable data, robust data, availability of data to any authorized user while keeping it out of the hands of unauthorized users by encryption that is dependent on a patient’s private key.
Applications of Blockchain in healthcare
Blockchains in healthcare need to be examined in five different areas:
- Managing electronic medical record (EMR) data.
- Healthcare data protection.
- Personal health record data management.
- Point-of-care genomics management.
- Electronic health records data management.
Blockchain can create a single system for stored, constantly updated, heath records for secure and rapid retrieval by authorized users. By avoiding miscommunication between different healthcare professionals involved in caring for the same patient, innumerable mistakes can be prevented, faster diagnosis and interventions become possible, and care can be personalized to each patient.
Over 176 million data breaches occurred in respect to healthcare since the last decade. Blockchain can help secure these data in a much better way. Everyone with access to the public or private key can check data whenever necessary. Hacking would be limited to just attacking the information details.
Health apps and monitoring
You must have seen the rise in mobile health applications nowadays. Electronic Medical Records are stored in the blockchain network. These data can be sent to medical officials or can be used for self-monitoring in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
- What are the advantages of Blockchain technology in healthcare?
Ans: Blockchain has the potential of eradicating the issues plaguing the industry and reforming healthcare by keeping the patient at the very crux of the medical ecosystem system and establishing increased security, interoperability as well as privacy of stored patient records.
2. What was the first application of Blockchain?
Ans: Bitcoin came into being in 2008 as the first application of Blockchain technology. Satoshi Nakamoto in his whitepaper detailed it as an electronic peer-to-peer system.
3. What is Blockchain and why should I care?
Ans: Blockchain technology was originally engineered to prevent fraud during the exchange and payment of virtual currencies, such as bitcoin. For example, because there is a permanent record of a transaction on the blockchain, the technology prevents a user from duplicating or double-spending her bitcoin.
4. Can Cryptocurrency be converted to cash?
Ans: There are several ways to convert bitcoin to cash and ultimately move it to a bank account: Sell bitcoin on a cryptocurrency exchange, such as Coinbase or Kraken. This is the easiest method if you want to sell bitcoin and withdraw the resulting cash directly to a bank account. Deposit (or buy) BTC into your account.
5. How to convert bitcoin into cash?
Ans: Sell bitcoin on a cryptocurrency exchange, such as Coinbase or Kraken. This is the easiest method if you want to sell bitcoin and withdraw the resulting cash directly to a bank account. To make sure brokers do not break money laundering laws, you will need to withdraw to the same bank account that you deposited with. It’s simple, easy, and secure, but it’s not the fastest method. For the U.S., the average time for money to reach your account is about 4-6 days but it varies by country. Any associated fees also depend on the country that your bank is located in. Coinbase is the most popular broker exchange for buying and selling bitcoin. They process more bitcoin transactions than any other broker and have a massive customer base of 13 million. The steps:
- Sign up and complete the verification process.
- Deposit (or buy) BTC into your account
- Cash-out your BTC to fiat via bank transfer or PayPal (applicable to some services)
- Bitcoin ATMs: Unlike traditional ATMs where you can withdraw currency from a bank account, a bitcoin ATM is a physical center that allows you to buy or sell bitcoins with fiat money. As of writing, there are over 4990+ crypto ATMs across 76 countries and you can use the website Coin ATM Radar to find a bitcoin or other cryptocurrency ATM near you. Keep in mind that not all machines are the same, and this method is only suitable for small transactions because most ATM machines have deposit and withdrawal limits The biggest drawback of using a bitcoin ATM is its high transaction fee, which typically ranges between 7-12%.
- Bitcoin Debit Cards: Several websites allow you to sell bitcoin and receive a prepaid debit card in exchange, allowing you to use it like a regular debit card. Each card is powered by either VISA or Mastercard, which means that they work for both online and offline shopping at most businesses anywhere in the world. Aside from purchases, you can even use bitcoin debit cards to withdraw cash at ATMs where VISA or Mastercard are accepted.
- Peer-to-Peer Transactions: For a quicker, more anonymous method, you can use a peer-to-peer platform to sell bitcoin for cash. When selling bitcoins to other people, you can decide which payment method you want the buyers to use. These include:
- Cash deposit: You can ask the buyer to deposit cash into your bank account. Always ask for proof of ID and proof of payment before releasing your Bitcoins to them.
- Bank Transfer: You can ask the buyer to send you a bank transfer payment (you can even use PayPal). Always request proof of ID from the buyer before going ahead. Once you have received the money, you can release the bitcoins to them.
6. Can Bitcoin be hacked?
Ans: It’s very difficult to hack the bitcoin network but there is always a risk of coins being stolen from a wallet in digital currency exchange. Since Bitcoin came into existence in 2009, the entire network hasn’t yet been hacked. There have been instances of exchanges or wallets being hacked, but not the entire network.