You turn on CNBC or open up the WSJ and there it is: cryptocurrency. From Bitcoin becoming the new “digital gold” to Ripple revolutionizing financial transactions (I find Ripple/XRP to be a mockery of what blockchain technology is supposed to be, but I will save that discussion for another day; I digress) the blockchain is gaining notoriety in the world of finance. But what about other areas of business? What other industry would benefit from having an indelible, immutable public ledger for the storage of data and transactions? The answer is resoundingly all areas of business (that is why I am devoting my life and career to it), but today we will be focusing on the health care industry.
Let us explore how the blockchain can be used to improve how we use data in health care. To do this, we need to get to the heart of what the blockchain is: a shared public ledger that records data and transactions in a distributed manner.
And in health care, data is everything. Currently, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are the means by which we store medical data. Private companies create and manage the EHR systems that doctors and hospitals are using to record this data; each is an island unto itself. The lack of transparency and aggregation of these closed systems leaves medical professionals looking at an incomplete picture of a patient’s medical history.
The blockchain would enable us to have all medical data in one place; allowing medical professionals to see the entire history of a patient’s health, in real-time with the assurance that the information at hand is comprehensive, current, and unaltered.
Blockchain technology will also seek to change how medical services are priced and paid. By implementing a distributed network to process transactions, we would reduce the amount of time needed to process a claim from weeks (sometimes months) to seconds. Current billing systems are archaic and essentially a digital version of a manual, paper process.
It will be blockchain technologies like DokChain that eliminate the current, inefficient system. Ted Tanner Jr., the Co-Founder of DokChain’s parent company, articulated his decision to utilize blockchain technology:
In the healthcare sector, protecting patient data and reducing blatant inefficiency are paramount, which is why we chose to use blockchain technologies. Blockchain is fundamental to the next computing cycle and will introduce new dimensions of compute power, speed, and security.
The time is near when the “blatant inefficiencies” that are currently commonplace in the health care industry will fall victim to the disruptive technology of the blockchain. Distributed, secure, worldwide access to health care data is within our grasp, but we must embrace this new technology.