I’m going to show you a variety of blockchain use cases in the healthcare industry – from data security and traceability to verifying professional credentials.
Keeping data safe and knowing its source is a responsibility for companies across all sectors. But it’s particularly important in an industry like healthcare, where a lot of sensitive, personally identifiable data is at stake. And, if we take into account that data breaches are on the rise, the bar for healthcare organizations is set even higher.
Here’s where blockchain technology comes to the rescue, offering not only a way to safeguard data, but also streamline many internal and external processes.
The current state of the blockchain implementation market and where it’s headed
According to Yahoo, the global blockchain tech market was valued at US$11.02 billion in 2023. The same source says the market is at a fast growth stage and is going to reach $265.01 billion by 2028. This shows that there is a high demand for blockchain-based technologies across multiple sectors, not just healthcare.
Since blockchain is about to take healthcare by storm, let’s take a look at how this digital acceleration benefits the sector.
The benefits of blockchain in healthcare
There are many ways in which blockchain can help healthcare, but I will focus on the main benefits.
Improving data security
Healthcare organizations often fall victim to data breaches. Since blockchain acts as a decentralized database, it offers a transparent and secure system for managing healthcare data. It can prove beneficial in tackling challenges related to interoperability, fraud, and data breaches.
Enhancing communication with patients
As mentioned above, blockchain technology improves data security, which is why some medical professionals prefer communication tools based on blockchain over email. They can easily send documents, which include sensitive information such as health records, invoices, etc., without worrying they’ll end up in the wrong hands as all communication is encrypted with digital signatures.
Speeding up medical credentialing
Becoming a healthcare professional, whether as a physiotherapist, doctor, or nurse, requires years of education and training. Before someone gets employed, it’s key to verify their credentials, including their licenses. This is a time-consuming and expensive process.
According to The Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare, it costs around $2 billion annually to maintain an up-to-date database of healthcare providers.
This process can be significantly enhanced with blockchain technology. It enables healthcare organizations to record and oversee their personnel’s details, which streamlines the hiring process. It also enhances transparency and fosters trust between patients, hospitals, and subcontractors.
Boosting verifiability and integrity of medical records
Patient data isn’t stored in a single location. By serving as a decentralized ledger, blockchain solutions minimize the risk of accessing and manipulating data by unauthorized parties. When drawing up medical records, healthcare providers can be certain that patient data is accurate, which brings more certainty both for the clinic and patient alike.
Improving supply chain monitoring and safety
Another extremely powerful benefit of blockchain technology is its traceability. For instance, you can track the entire journey an Aspirin blister pack makes from a manufacturing site to patients’ homes.
This can be a blessing in cases such as urgent drug recalls. For instance, if a manufacturer discovers a facility malfunction resulting in the lack of child protection packaging, thousands of units need to be recalled. Situations like these, while rare, do take place, with Sandoz and Novartis’ recall of nearly half a million drug units being one of the more publicized cases.
Strict supply chain monitoring also means that pharmacies can easily verify fake drugs. When a product leaves the ‘genuine’ facility, it has a unique ledger that indicates the manufacturing date and exact production place.
Supporting medical research while respecting patient privacy
Blockchain is a game-changer when it comes to running research or accessing studies from fellow researchers. Medical research facilities can exchange their findings, including those that relate to patients, without revealing any information that would make them identifiable.
For example, they could share detailed findings on the effect of radiotherapy treatments of >5,000 patients while keeping personally identifiable information (PII) completely unavailable.
Blockchain allows researchers from all over the world to access and collaborate on each other's research while staying fully compliant with patient privacy laws.
Examples of blockchain-based projects
You’re probably curious about seeing blockchain in action! Here are a few interesting projects on how this technology is used in healthcare.
Medifakt is a tech company based in Estonia that offers a decentralized blockchain platform for healthcare. It’s a combination of the Internet of Things, machine learning, and blockchain aiming to keep medical information more secure. It ensures the safe sharing of sensitive information between multiple medical sources.
In the words of the CEO of Medifakt, the company “created a platform using blockchain technology to improve the smart healthcare ecosystem for patients that permits and supports the transfer, transmission, storage, interpretation, second opinion, and evaluation by artificial intelligence of medical data and medical images across all subtherapeutic areas and medical specialties which we could cater to the needs of the healthcare industry.”
Embleema is a platform for running virtual trials and regulatory analytics speeding up drug development. Recruited participants are asked to digitally consent to having their data collected, stored, and analyzed on Embleema’s blockchain.
Patients can actively contribute to faster drug and treatment development and improving safety measures through Embleema’s Virtual Studies Suite.
CoralHealth is a free-to-use personal health app that simplifies medication management. Thanks to the use of blockchain it:
- Enhances the care process
- Automates administrative tasks
- And boosts health outcomes.
Doctors, scientists, lab technicians and public health authorities can all get quick access to patient information thanks to the use of a decentralized digital system that records and manages transactions across multiple systems. To make sure that data and treatments are precise, CoralHealth offers smart contracts that apply to patients and healthcare pros alike.
CertForward is a blockchain-powered web platform Netguru developed for Merck (MilliporeSigma). It’s the first solution on the market that lets cannabis growers, laboratories, and manufacturers receive a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for their products.
Certificates let consumers confirm that the product they’re purchasing meets the same quality standards as other goods in the food sector. Each COA is stored securely on blockchain. CertForward also holds records regarding the entire manufacturing process, allowing companies to keep track of all cannabis products released on the market.
MediLedger is a decentralized, open network for companies in the life sciences industry. It lets pharma manufacturers and their trading partners automate transaction data – from signing contracts to verifying product standards.
MediLedger uses blockchain to collect information on products from the entire supply chain. It holds information on each drug and unit, including their respective manufacturing dates, series numbers, and expiration dates.
MediLedger also lets collaborating companies securely exchange messages with each other through the platform. MediLedger’s network is used by a number of global pharma brands including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.
Medicalchain is a blockchain solution that puts patients in control of how their data is used and accessed by healthcare providers. When a person wants to share their electronic health records, they can either grant access to a trusted party indefinitely or for a specific time only.
Among others, the system can be used by individuals to opt into clinical studies or to display their healthcare data to medical insurance companies. Since the data is verified and up-to-date, patients can also grant access to hospitals to guarantee they’re receiving the best level of care.
Guardtimeis a platform that enables the creation of practical enterprise applications based on blockchain. They popularize the use of blockchain among healthcare and governmental institutions and aid with implementation. The company played a major role in helping Estonia’s healthcare system implement and benefit from blockchain. They’re also assisting a private healthcare provider in Saudi Arabia to make their data privacy systems more secure using this technology.
8. Nebula Genomics
Nebula Genomics is a game-changer in the DNA sequencing market, which operates on blockchain technology. Unlike top commercial DNA test companies, it lets customers run DNA tests without revealing any personally identifiable information.
Those who choose not to disclose their identity can purchase tests through a prepaid credit card or pay through pseudonymized cryptocurrency payment powered by Ethereum. When DNA samples are received, they’re immediately anonymized before any researchers engage in sequencing. Customers are in full control of their genomic data.
9. ProCredEx from Hashed Health
ProCredEx, short for The Professional Credentials Exchange, is a blockchain-powered platform for verifying professional credentials and compliance. Healthcare organizations can connect it to their compliance ecosystem, upload and centralize their data, and safely measure their compliance levels.
Companies can run an audit and generate reports by accessing network-wide insights from other organizations in the sector. As ProCredEx relies on distributed ledger technology, it guarantees the verifiability and security of all credentials. The platform is used by numerous medical research institutions, as well as commercial insurance and healthcare providers.
The role of blockchain in healthcare
There is a growing demand for blockchain solutions in the healthcare sector. Not only can this technology help keep sensitive data secure but also monitor the entire supply chain and guarantee safe communication thanks to data encryption.
If you’re not using any blockchain-based tools yet, then take a look at the ones I discussed, and if none of them fit your needs, get in touch with us, and we’ll discuss how we can help you with blockchain development.