Although people on opposing political sides are likely to disagree on what needs to be done to reform the U.S. health-care system, few would argue that it is in disarray at the moment.
To be clear, reforming health care will be a protracted process involving many groups from the corporate, scientific, and political realms. Even while disputes over large-scale industrial concerns raged, technical innovations helped to boost efficiency in tiny but significant ways: New software, for example, enables safer, quicker transfer and storage of health information by providers.
On the other hand, it’s no secret that many aspects of the health-care sector are trapped in obsolete technology and processes. Pagers and fax machines spring to mind as examples. According to a 2020 assessment, 83% of medical imaging machines were using unsupported operating systems, leaving enterprises open to hacks. 1 This might not only cost the sector money, but it can also risk patient care and livelihood. Given these challenges, there are growing hints that the health care sector may be ready to take advantage of blockchain technology, which is popular in the cryptocurrency realm but has yet to make its way into the mainstream corporate world.
How Could Blockchain Help?
According to John Halamka, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, patient data is frequently dispersed across many locations, making it difficult to retrieve at critical moments. 2 Blockchain technology has the potential to transform the way health data is stored and communicated. Indeed, blockchain technology, with its ultra-secure encrypted database and shared ledger for quick and simple communication, may be precisely the answer for the sector.
Health care systems might use blockchain to securely store medical information while also updating patient data across various institutions and regions in real time. This would allow health-care institutions to devote more time and money to patient care and innovation, rather than administration.
Blockchain Solutions Already in Play
Several firms have already begun to utilize blockchain to improve health care. None of these activities have yet taken up on a national scale, but they indicate corporate interest as well as theoretical openness to new technologies.
One such firm is Hashed Health. Hashed Health is a free and open forum for health care professionals to debate and collaborate on blockchain applications in the sector. In addition, the firm offers an advice branch to assist health care enterprises in understanding how blockchain might be linked into current systems. Finally, the organization includes a lab dedicated to developing innovative blockchain technology solutions to challenges plaguing the health care market.
MedRec is another another blockchain-focused health care firm. MedRec uses a peer-to-peer ledger that enables providers to monitor files and information in real time. The service also enables for more direct connection with patients. Clinicians, facilities, and large-scale systems are all linked together on a single platform, allowing for the most efficient information transfer conceivable.
A third such firm is DYNOSTICS. DYNOSTICS, which caters to individual users, assists people in determining their current level of fitness by offering rapid feedback and a single spot for all data. DYNOSTICS, like the other two firms mentioned above, is concerned with data security and privacy.
To be sure, there are other firms attempting to use blockchain to change health care. Will any of these initiatives succeed in changing the industry’s staid and, in many instances, harmful practices? That is yet to be seen. However, the fact that organizations in the blockchain field are making strong bids to try these solutions might be seen as a positive indicator of future advancement.
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