How Blockchain Is Disrupting Health Care Records
Keeping accurate and up-to-date medical records can be a difficult proposition. With patients accessing health care in different places, different providers can have different information on the same patient. Accessing patient data can also be a hassle. Because of laws regarding patient privacy, most requests for patient records must go through the patient, which can take time.
Some companies, such as Medicalchain, are looking to change the world of medical records by using blockchain to create a secure way of sharing the latest patient data with multiple health care professionals at once, eliminating the middleman.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a digital ledger made up of records called blocks. It was initially designed in 2008 by someone (or a group of people) using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Blockchain’s intended use at that time was to serve as a public ledger of transactions involving bitcoin. Blockchain records aren’t limited to recording cryptocurrency transactions, however. The distributed records of blockchain can be used to record and verify any transactions between two parties in a way that isn’t easily alterable.
How Does Blockchain Work?
Each block in a blockchain is linked to the next using cryptography and contains data from the previous block in the chain. It’s for this reason that blockchain is considered very secure. Although it’s not impossible to change data in a blockchain, it’s not easy to because the data would need to be changed in every subsequent block in the chain, making them very resistant to changes. Each entry in a block also contains a timestamp.
How Does Blockchain Improve Health Care Records?
Software companies such as Medicalchain use blockchain technology to create a centralized database of patient medical records. This centralized database has many advantages over the siloed system in use across much of the healthcare world.
Patients Must Opt-in
Patient privacy is still a major concern. Therefore, any patients whose records are stored with blockchain must opt-in to the service. From there, they can grant permission to health care professionals to access those records. They can retract that permission or grant permission for only a limited period of time. This helps healthcare professionals maintain compliance with patient privacy laws.
Centralized Records Database
Medical records stored with blockchain are kept in one centralized database. This means that healthcare professionals seeking access to patient records and information only need permission from the patient to access the files. There’s no middleman or waiting to receive transferred documents. The most up-to-date information is stored in one location shared by all healthcare professionals who have been granted access by the patient.
Health Care Records Are Collaborative
With patient records located in one centralized database, they’re more collaborative. A health care professional can make necessary additions to the records that are timestamped. Another health care professional can do the same without the records having to be transferred. All patient data from all relevant health care professionals can be kept in the same centralized record instead of separately.
Health Care Records Are Up-to-Date
When health care records are kept separate with each individual health care provider, there’s a risk that records aren’t the most up-to-date. This occurs when a change is made with one health care provider but others are unaware of the change. Blockchain-based medical records, on the other hand, are both centralized and timestamped so it’s easy to ensure that health care professionals are accessing the latest information.
Patients Get Better Care
When patient records are more accurate and easier to get, health care professionals can ensure that they’re providing the best possible care. With siloed records, there’s a risk of inadvertently using inaccurate information. Plus, if medical records are requested from another provider, the transfer can take some time. Accessing a centralized blockchain of medical records can make accessing patient data much faster, freeing up health care provider time and ensuring faster care for the patient.