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Blockchain Technology Implementation in Healthcare Industry

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Alexander Safonov
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According to experts, the global blockchain market in the healthcare industry will grow from 1.19 billion dollars in 2021 to 126 billion dollars in 2030. The annual growth will be 68% on average. This article will tell why the market will grow and illustrate the most successful examples of employing blockchain in health care, pharmacy, and clinical studies.

Blockchain and healthcare

Blockchain is a database type that is distributed to numerous nodes of the network. Its task is storing and transferring digital information. The technology aims to keep the data securely and not allow changing, deleting, hacking, or compromising. Therefore, blockchain is perfect for financial, logistics, production, and other systems that collect data from various sources and provide them to all network participants.

Blockchain offers several advantages to the healthcare industry; let’s highlight the main ones:

  • As mentioned above, blockchain is decentralized; hence, it is protected from hacks and guarantees that data will not be compromised. Hospital equipment or software for storing and transferring personal information about patients can use these decentralized systems.
  • Single data source. Data is essential in the healthcare industry. Patient records, illness history, anamnesis, vital signs, prescriptions, medication dosages, and other related data should be stored with high security. Blockchain can collect, store, and distribute information depending on the user's status (doctor, nurse, patient).
  • 24-hour data monitoring (and access to it). From the patient's oxygen levels to their blood pressure readings, all data must be monitored 24/7 and accessed to ensure the patient receives adequate treatment. Traditional database management systems (DBMS) in the healthcare industry know how to do it, yet they have a critical disadvantage: they do not protect information from changes, deleting, or hacking. Blockchains solve this issue in health care and make data monitoring straightforward, quick, and secure.
  • Automatization and following regulations. Blockchain will automatize typical processes with smart contracts – self-executing programs that work according to If – Then principle. Medical platforms with this function will follow strict rules and healthcare protocols for providing access to patient data or other personal information. Furthermore, smart contracts manage financial operations.
  • Since blockchain technology provides decentralized financial transactions, security and confidentiality are always critical. In particular, the Bitcoin blockchain employs the 256-bit caching algorithm (SHA-256), which is practically impossible to hack. This blockchain provides publicity, utmost security, and data privacy.

Seven blockchain cases in health care.

As you consider the importance of blockchain in health care, let’s explore the primary options for using blockchain technology in health care.

Forging medicine and drugs

Issue. According to statistics, 1 million people a year die from forged medicine, which is inefficient, poorly efficient, or harmful. WHO says that about 10% of treatment globally is forged, while in developing countries, about 30%. Not only that, but the regions with most cases of fake drugs do not necessarily have poor laws and regulations. Since verifying the authenticity of medicine by patients and government is not common, there are no instruments for it.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) claims that pharmacy companies globally lose up to 200 billion dollars annually due to counterfeit medicine. To understand the scale of this issue, compare the number above to 250 billion dollars, which is illicit drug trafficking.

Blockchain solution. This technology will reduce the risks caused by faked medicine; consequently, it will save many lives and billions of dollars for the global economy. The blockchain will record all operations to register with the consensus mechanism, and all efforts to add unauthorized information to the blockchain will fail. Furthermore, the recorded data is protected from changing and deleting. It works since several successful solutions on the market prove this concept.

Here are the most famous cases:

  • iSolve company provides transparency and security on all levels, from supplying medicine to helping the companies track the stock better to analyze the demand for treatment and patients’ needs.
  • TraceRX is a blockchain solution for pharmacy supply chains by International Aid. Leeway Hertz Technologies developed this distributed ledger platform to trace free drugs and detect their loss.
  • Walmart, IBM, Merck, and KPMG cooperated on blockchain solutions that track medicine in the whole supply chain. This project aims to provide clinics and drug stores with genuine treatment that meets all requirements and standards.

Data storage and security

Issue. Data security is a critical issue in the health care industry. From July 2021 to June 2022, there were about 700 official cases of significant medicine data leaks. The malefactors usually steal banking information and data about credit cards. Also, they are interested in health status, genomic test results, and other medical data.

Main reasons for data breaches in the health care industry

Main reasons for data breaches in the health care industry. Source

Blockchain solution. Blockchain provides decentralized and transparent journals with data; hence, there is demand for the technology and protection it provides, including in the health care industry. Furthermore, blockchain is transparent (all transactions are visible to the public) and confidential simultaneously since the network participants are anonymous. These features make blockchain perfect for storing health care data and exchanging it.

Here are several examples that prove it:

  • MediBloc has a patient-oriented ecosystem called Panacea with health data that protects confidentiality and increases the reliability of health-related information. It is secure, reliable, and user-friendly.
  • Akiri is a healthcare industry-optimized solution that functions as a network and protocol for setting policies, adjusting health data levels, and verifying data sources in real time. Akiri guarantees that the information is protected and available only to parties with appropriate permission and status.
  • BurstIQ is a platform that allows medicine companies to manage massive volumes of patients’ data securely. Their technology helps to store, sell, license, and share data under strict HIPAA rules and other regulations.
  • Guardtime company plays a vital role in implementing blockchain in the health care industry of Estonia. They contracted with a private medicine service supplier from the United Arab Emirates to integrate their data privacy systems with blockchain.

Data management and segmentation

Issue. Managing information is another aspect where the health care industry is poorly efficient. The problem s that critically important patient information is segmented and stored in several systems, which complicates the work for staff, especially in situations where a few seconds will determine whether a patient dies or survives.

Blockchain solution. Implementing blockchain in healthcare systems will completely change the means of storing and sharing digital patient cards. This technology helps to keep all patient data on one secure and reliable platform.

  • CareCloud (former MTBC) is worth mentioning here. The company offers private blockchain solutions for hospitals and medical service suppliers. Their applications provide Software as a service (SaaS) that includes an Electronic Health Record (EHR), Practice management (PM), telemedicine, Revenue cycle management (RCM), Patient experience management (PXM), and business analytics. These solutions are for highly-efficient health care groups.

Clinical Medicine Studies

Issue. The clinical medicine studies sector has numerous problems. Data privacy, authentication reliability, and shared data usage security are the most critical. Also, the issues of the industry include:
  • About 50% of studies are not registered, and the researchers often do don share the results. This is expected to create knowledge gaps for health care policymakers and investors and vital patient safety issues.
  • The sponsors spend about 25% of the clinical studies budget on source data verification (SDV) to guarantee the origin and integrity of the collected information according to the requirements. That said, the growing preference for eSource data is expected to increase the complexity of all processes, the costs associated with ethical management and data collection, and data reproducibility.
Blockchain solution. Integrating blockchain into clinical research will help to start new initiatives in attracting patients and shaping the patients’ control over their medical data. The blockchain creates a decentralized market for data suppliers (including patients and test subjects). Thus, data sources will control the availability of information related to their health reliably and securely. In addition, the market will demand a system for the management of the agreeance of patients on transferring personal information and managing the clinic test of pharmacy drugs.

The clinical research scheme with blockchain employment

The clinical research scheme with blockchain employment. Source
There are a few solutions, yet they managed to succeed:
  • Medable focuses on decentralized clinical studies for efficient patient treatment. In march 2018, Medable announced the INSIGHT network, a blockchain-based platform. It incentives biopharmaceutical companies, medical researchers, and patients to share real-world evidence (RWE) information on their own and provides a transparent and verifiable exchange of medical information.
  • Embleema is a virtual platform for research and regulatory analyses designed to speed up medicine development. The platform offers instruments for digital agreeance, collecting medical data, and storing it on the Embleema blockchain.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim company cooperates with IBM to see whether blockchain can provide data integrity, authenticity, and transparency for clinical research.

Supply chain management

Issue. What do we actually know about drugs? How can we be sure that they are genuine? Were the storage requirements kept while transporting them? These questions are critical for the supply chains of medicine products. It is hardly possible to provide an answer with the traditional approach to supply chain management; it is expensive and time-consuming.

Blockchain solution. Blockchain proved the efficiency in the supply chain for retail, fossils, automotive industry, and sea transportation. Undoubtedly, blockchain can optimize supply chains for the healthcare industry.

FarmaTrust application helps to manage and track supply chains for the health care industry

FarmaTrust application helps to manage and track supply chains for the healthcare industry. Source
Here are some actual examples of likewise solutions:
  • MediLedger is a leading blockchain protocol that helps companies throughout the prescription drug supply chain to verify authenticity, expiration dates, and other important information.
  • FarmaTrust works on innovation and digitalization for healthcare and pharmacy enterprises. The company focuses on providing transparency for all supply processes in pharmacy by employing various AI and blockchain solutions. Key business segments offered by the company include pharmaceutical tracking and data, cell and gene therapy, medical device services, and vaccine solutions.
  • Blockpharma company offers a blockchain solution for tracking and tracing medicine and fighting counterfeiting. The patients can be sure about their treatment since the entire supply chain is monitored and scanned at all steps. The company guarantees that the medicine tracked by their system is 100% genuine.
  • Chronicled company launched the Mediledger project. It is an accounting system with security, privacy, and efficiency means for supply chains of medical products. Mediledger helps pharmacy companies to supervise that their products are supplied and stored according to the laws and standards. The network also allows the law to verify suspicious activity like illegal drug trafficking or the sale of counterfeit goods.
  • Tierion blockchain verifies documents, records, and treatment to provide clear history. The company uses timestamps and accounting data to verify ownership right in the supply chain and guarantee authenticity.

Employee certification verification.

Issue. According to Statista, about 1 million certified doctors are in the USA. With so many medical professionals, it can be challenging to verify everyone's credentials, and someone without the appropriate knowledge and skills may be allowed to treat a patient.

Blockchain solution. Similar to tracking the origin of medical goods, blockchain technology could be used to verify the qualifications of medical professionals. This would involve creating a blockchain platform in which trusted universities and medical institutions would enter data on graduates and employees, simplifying the hiring process for healthcare organizations.

ProCredEx blockchain optimizes data verification about the staff

ProCredEx blockchain optimizes data verification about the staff. Source
There is only one successful case in this sector on the market:
  • ProCredEx is an American company that developed a system for qualification verification for medical workers. It employs the R3 Corda blockchain protocol. It is unique since it does more than just collect data. The system allows clinics, insurance, pharmacy companies, universities, etc., to monetize their data about the former and current staff. The bottom line: you provide information about medical personnel to the network, and if someone asks for them, you get paid for it (very similar to Spotify's business model, only in ProCredEx instead of music, texts about the skills and experience of the personnel).

Genomics

Issue. Genomics is a biology sector that studies genomes' structure, functions, evolutions, mapping, and editing. Although the potential of this field for medicine is almost limitless, it has a solid limiting factor: many patients simply do not want to share their genomic data. This greatly complicates the development, as genomics relies on analyzing giant data sets about genomes and genes and their impact on living organisms.

Blockchain solution. Blockchain technology can become fundamental for decentralized platforms that will store data about genomes and share it. Moreover, Blockchain can become a trading platform where people sell their genetic information and provide scientists with valuable data faster than ever before.

Here are some examples:

  • EncrypGen Gene-Chain is a blockchain platform for searching, storing, selling, and buying gene information.
  • Nebula Genomics employs blockchain technology to reduce unnecessary expenses on intermediaries during genetic research. The platform allows users to monetize their gene data and creates an extensive database about human genes.
  • ai uses blockchain technology and artificial intelligence for decentralized medical storage and exchange. Doc.ai helps the users to share their genomic data with the scientific community and keep their privacy simultaneously.


Blockchain Technology Implementation in Healthcare Industry key takeaways:
  1. Blockchain and healthcare
  2. Seven blockchain cases in health care.
  3. Forging medicine and drugs
  4. Data storage and security
  5. Data management and segmentation
  6. Clinical Medicine Studies
  7. Supply chain management
  8. Employee certification verification.
  9. Genomics
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