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Blockchain in Healthcare? Yes, we aren't joking!

Yeah yeah, I get it, it's really confusing. What does blockchain possibly offers here? Well, here goes!

Blockchain has a wide range of applications and uses in healthcare. The ledger technology facilitates the secure transfer of patient medical records, manages the medicine supply chain and helps healthcare researchers unlock genetic code.

With its ability to deflate the current spending bubble, protect patient data and improve the overall healthcare experience, blockchain may help ease the pain. The technology is already being used to do everything from securely encrypt patient data to manage the outbreak of harmful diseases.

Securing Patient Data

Keeping our important medical data safe and secure is the most popular blockchain healthcare application at the moment, which isn't surprising. Security is a major issue in the healthcare industry. Between 2009 and 2017, more than 176 million patient records were exposed in data breaches. The perpetrators stole credit card and banking information, as well as health and genomic testing records.

Blockchain's ability to keep an incorruptible, decentralized and transparent log of all patient data makes it a technology rife for security applications. Additionally, while blockchain is transparent it is also private, concealing the identity of any individual with complex and secure codes that can protect the sensitivity of medical data. The decentralized nature of the technology also allows patients, doctors and healthcare providers to share the same information quickly and safely.

Streamline care and prevent costly mistakes

Miscommunication between medical professionals costs the healthcare industry a staggering $11 billion a year. The time-consuming process of obtaining access to a patient's medical records exhausts staff resources and delays patient care. Blockchain-based medical records offers a cure for these ills. 

The decentralized nature of the technology creates one ecosystem of patient data that can be quickly and efficiently referenced by doctors, hospitals, pharmacists and anyone else involved in treatment. In this way, the blockchain can lead to faster diagnoses and personalized care plans. 

Medical Supply chain traceability

How much do we really know about our medicine? Can we be sure it hasn't been tampered with? Is it coming from a legitimate supplier? These questions are the primary concerns of the medical supply chain, or the link between the lab and the marketplace

Blockchain has serious implications for pharmaceutical supply chain management, and its decentralization virtually guarantees full transparency in the shipping process. Once a ledger for a drug is created, it will mark the point of origin (i.e. a laboratory). The ledger will then continue to record data every step of the way, including who handled it and where it has been, until it reaches the consumer. The process can even monitor labour costs and waste emissions.  

What do blockchain health records and modern healthcare have in common ?

Telemedicine, Artificial Intelligence - enabled medical devices are the concrete examples of how a digital transformation of healthcare is reshaping the way we can directly interact with healthcare.

Blockchain electronic health records placed in the control of legitimate owners allow the individual to benefit of proofs of his/her health status and access preventive care, a better insurance plan or eventually - in the unfortunate event of pandemics - they can irrefutably prove the eligibility to work, travel or help others.

So modern healthcare devices and blockchain have one very crucial thing in common: they are designed to track and trace health without need of intermediaries from everywhere and at any time of the day. While digital devices represent a huge benefit to the individual but also a huge threat to an individual's privacy especially with the progressive implementation of 5G infrastructures and the expected exponential growth in health data sharing, blockchain can provide the necessary solution for securing on chain test results and health reports.

The groundwork for all happiness is health. Employers know this very well

Not surprisingly, companies across the globe are increasing their investments in wellness programs for their workforce. In EU countries as well, 1.7% of the GDP is expended on paid sick leave and disability. This figure, it is estimated, is more than what’s spent on unemployment benefits. Harvard's researchers report that for every dollar spent on employee wellness, medical costs fall $3.27 and absenteeism drops $2.73, a 6-to-1 return on investment.

Unfortunately workplace wellness programs can put employees' health Data at risk.

By participating in a company’s wellness program, employees may unwittingly be sharing too much information when they undergo health screening tests, for example, or wear a fitness tracker. Wellness program vendors can analyse the data to ferret out personal life developments, such as an employee trying to get pregnant.

As wellness programs prompt employees to fill out online health surveys, wear Internet-connected fitness trackers, take biometric exams and even send in genetic material, concerns are legitimate about data mining and confidentiality of workers’ information. Ensuring the privacy of employees’ personal health information, and tracking how wellness providers, health insurers and employers may use it, can be a tricky prospect for HR, given the different types of wellness programs and various laws covering them.

TiiQu's health ID works as a secured gateway to health checks and wellness programs provided by the employer. It allows employers to provide and track the adoption of wellness programs, and monitoring the expiration of certificates' validity, without accessing the health data of any employees. For workforce insurance purposes, a corporate will be able to instantly demonstrate adoption and validity of wellness programs and certificates, without tracking health data.

As said at the beginning of this article, thanks to the immutability and verifiability of blockchain-based certification, when immutable credentials are issued as a result of a test, a health check or health program, these can be automatically checked against the proof originally published to the blockchain, without retaining health data or exposing it to cyber risks.

Wellness of the workforce is an ongoing process, in which multiple actors contribute. The outcome of wellness programs would result in new rewards for employees, lower insurance costs for employers, precise information for insurances and authorities. When an economical cost or benefit is attached to the outcome of a certain action, an irrefutable and secured proof, is what all involved parties need.

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