The term ‘Blockchain’ means a rigid sharable record of transactions and information, each comprising one block which are held together by cryptographic keys called as hashes. Each transaction is verified by peer-to-peer computer networks, time-stamped and added to a growing chain of data. Once the data is recorded, it cannot be changed or hacked into. This technology is a type of digital ledger technology.
Since blockchain management is distributed across various networks (decentralised) and is not confined to a centralised entity like an organisation or a group, the database cannot be changed, or traced without access. The robust and organised data is easily accessible to the authorised users while keeping it out of the hands of unauthorized users by encryption that is dependent on a patient’s private key.
Some of the applications of blockchain technologies in healthcare include:
- Research: Electronic health records allow automatic updating and sharing of medical information of a patient within an organization or network of organizations only. Researchers and other authorised organizations can access this wide spectrum of data on large patient cohorts. The availability of such large amounts of data will help promote clinical research, safety event and adverse event reporting and identification, and public health reporting.
- Seamless switching of patients between providers: The same information on the blockchain could allow individual patients to easily unlock and share their health data with other providers, through a shareable private key. This could help to make health information technology interoperable and collaborative between different users.
- Faster, cheaper, better patient care: Blockchain can create a single system for stored, constantly updated, health records for secure and rapid retrieval by authorized users. This can prevent any miscommunication and mistakes thus enabling faster diagnosis and personalised treatments.
- Data security: From 2009 to 2017, over 176 million data breaches occurred with respect to healthcare records. Since blockchains are extremely secure, health information is better protected. Each individual has a public identifier or key and a private key, which can be unlocked only as and for the period necessary. Moreover, hacking would be limited by the need to attack each user individually to obtain private information.
- Mobile health apps and remote monitoring: On mobile health applications, electronic medical records are made extra secure through a blockchain network, and the data can be sent to medical personnel rapidly, along with being available for self-monitoring and home care.
- Tracing and securing medical supplies: Blockchain can help secure, and identify the trail of, pharmaceutical supplies, with full transparency. It can even provide information on the labor costs and carbon emissions involved in the manufacture of these supplies.
- Health insurance claims: The blockchain is uniquely adapted to claim processing because of its ability to present medical events as they occurred, without the potential for changing the data at a later stage for purposes of fraud.
- Tracking diseases and outbreaks: The unique capabilities of blockchain can help real-time reporting and exploring of disease patterns which helps to trace its origin and transmission parameters.
Blockchain technology to help connect Indian doctors to patients worldwide:
Solve.Care Foundation, a global healthcare blockchain platform company, has introduced a Global Telehealth Exchange (GTHE) network in India in association with HealthLink Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a Pune-based healthtech firm. GTHE is an open, instant patient-doctor teleconsultation healthcare network that operates on the Solve.Care platform.
GTHE acts as a global directory of physicians worldwide for patients, and once doctors complete a verification process, they are assigned a Global Telehealth ID with their professional profile published on the network. This enables patients worldwide to easily find their doctor of interest and book appointments. It cuts out any intermediaries and directly gets the patient in touch with the doctor through a secure route. Payments can be made using either the SOLVE token, Solve.Care’s native digital healthcare currency, USD, or the Indian rupee directly in the Care.Wallet app.
In addition to patients from India, patients from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Kenya and Nigeria can also access Indian registered doctors through GTHE.
Pradeep Goel, CEO, Solve.Care said, “The application of blockchain technology for healthcare provides an opportunity to revolutionise healthcare in India. With Global Telehealth Exchange, patients can now have consultation with a doctor or specialist anywhere in the world, almost immediately”.