Blockchain potential in healthcare
The use of blockchain technology in healthcare could bring about some improvements. These are mainly the areas of transparency, security and connectivity. Health records are not yet connected and managed separately due to the lack of a common technological architecture and non-compliance with standards, according to a study by the auditing and consulting firm Deloitte. This problem could be solved by a blockchain. “It enables seamless connectivity, backed by smart contracts and consistent authorization to retrieve electronic patient data,” writes Deloitte. This would strengthen the data integrity and digital identity of patients. In addition, it is possible to improve innovative patient care. “To shape the future, you need to think about analyzing the entire ecosystem, thereby establishing a set of rules that coordinate blockchain early adopters and support the pilot consortium,” Deloitte continues. This kind of thinking has clearly already taken place in politics. In 2019, the Federal Ministry of Health organized an idea competition that presented the first concrete applications of blockchain in the German healthcare system.
The idea competition shows the first application examples
In the so-called “Workshop of the Future”, eager pioneers were given the opportunity to showcase their blockchain innovations for the German healthcare system. Out of 140 submitted proposals, 20 went to the finals.
The third place was taken by prof. Volker Nürnberg and Stephanie Widmaier. They dealt with sick leave in a doctor’s office. Issuing a disability certificate is a daily work in a doctor’s office, but it is still a cumbersome and paper-based process. Blockchain technology can help here with digital relief. “It is securely encrypted and sent to the patient, employer and insurance company,” reads the website of the Federal Ministry of Health. Counterfeiting is practically impossible. Users can view and manage certificate information via the app.
Andreas Schütz and Tobias Fertig finished second with their idea for digitization patient consents. Sometimes they need to be shared during surgery, educational interviews, participation in research, or organ donation. “Patients should be able to determine on a case-by-case basis what happens to their data – both genetic and other personal data,” writes the Federal Ministry of Health. This is where blockchain comes into play. Thanks to them, the data remained protected despite the alleged transparency, and patients could individually decide how to use it.
The winners of the idea competition were Irina Hardt and Dr. Christian Sigler. In their project, they took up the problem of drug abuse. Drug prescriptions are susceptible to manipulation, abuse and theft. This can be prevented by transferring the rules to the blockchain. Hardt and Sigler propose that future prescriptions (“eBtM”) be managed digitally on a private blockchain by medical practices, pharmacies and regulators. In this way, eBtM increases drug safety in Germany and reduces the administrative burden.
Blockchain can make healthcare safer and more transparent
As the concrete applications of future workshops show, blockchain technology can make healthcare safer, more transparent and more efficient. However, in addition to these ideas, a number of further improvements are conceivable. According to BTC-Echo, blockchain can also be used to track production and supply chains. This way the drugs would not disappear from view, which could also affect their quality. For example, if the cold chain of the corona vaccine were to be broken, it could simply be put in order. Blockchain also offers the advantage that the process is more transparent and safer than manipulation when it comes to waiting lists for organ donors.
The possibilities of using blockchain technology in healthcare are therefore diverse. The future will show how well these opportunities will ultimately be exploited in Germany.
Nicolas Flohr / Editor finanzen.net
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