October 11, 2018
Blockchain: Making a Difference in the Healthcare Landscape
A recent survey from IBM showed that 56% of health executive respondents plan to implement commercial blockchain solutions by 2020.
The now headliner blockchain technology is gaining momentum as a transformative technology with the potential to redefine a wide variety of industries. Originally from cryptocurrency and cybersecurity, blockchain is making its way as a trusted strategy for managing big data in the broad healthcare ecosystem.
I am going to share some key facts how blockchain can influence healthcare and life science with stats and use-cases from health data management and consent management, to pharma supply chain, clinical trials and claims management.
Health Data Management and Interoperability across Clinical Vertical
Medical record exchanges and the integrity of them are the cornerstone of every healthcare system. The idea behind the application of blockchain technology, for health data exchange, is keeping the integrity of huge volumes of medical records, with a single-stop access for providers and patients, with highest data security. This gives patients full authority over their personal medical history.
For example, due to blockchain capabilities, a patient is the the only decision-maker on whether to anonymously share their personal medical records with a researcher to be used in research, which could possibly make medical breakthroughs faster than they are now.
Consent Management across Engagement Vertical
According the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about 10% of the monitored clinical trials are affected by consent-related issues, like lack of or invalid written informed consent, unapproved forms or missing revised re-consent forms, etc.
In a digital world, consent is how you exercise your rights and the healthcare environment is no different. Blockchain has the capability to decentralize the network and put an individual’s complete health records, along with the documented patient’s consent, on a ledger thus preventing pharma from monopolizing the data sharing process and it also precludes fraud. Anyone interested in medical data about a patient will have to verify permissions in the blockchain. This issue is getting particularly hot with the development of the genomic market.
The global genomics market size is expected to reach $27.6 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc.
Genomic studies help researchers understand the diseases’ mechanisms which empower evidence-based medical decisions and improve personalized treatment. Now that genetic code is revolutionizing targeted therapies, take for example non-Hodgkin lymphoma and some retinal disorders that are about to be cured with the help of human DNA, blockchain might securely and flexibly manage the data circulation needed to enhance research, while simultaneously allowing users to remain in control of their data and to decide exactly who it gets shared with and for what purposes.
Supply Chain Management, Clinical Trials and Drug Development across Pharma Vertical
Prescription drug sales globally are forecasted to hit $1.2 trillion by 2024, but there is still a huge feedback deficiency between pharmaceuticals and the consumers.
With the exponential growth of drug distribution chains, and the pressing issue of counterfeit medicines, global pharma companies and distributors are paying particular attention to supply chain security and traceability, with the help of blockchain. The real-time records securely stored in blockchain enable tracing barcode-tagged drugs by the authorized parties and eliminating economic loss alongside safety, labor, and logistics preservations.
Clinical Trials and Drug Development
Forbes states that, according to studies, about 50% of clinical trials go unreported, which potentially creates safety and information issues for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Blockchain is becoming a viable tool for automatic controlled aggregation and distribution of clinical data among researchers and care providers, consequently speeding up clinical trials and ultimately lowering drug development costs. When combined with the exhaustive EDC and other systems, blockchain technology addresses significant hurdles within clinical trials management such as processing huge volumes of data extracted from the research studies, meeting regulatory requirements, and above all – managing patients’ privacy issues, thus driving better patient engagement in research initiatives, and promoting precision-based medicine and better population health management. For example, blockchain can empower clinical trials by providing the researchers with real-time patient data in a completely secure way with application of “smart contracts”.
Payments and Claims Adjudication
Medicare fraud caused around $30 million in losses in 2016 in the US.
Blockchain-based healthcare claims management solutions have proven beneficial since both payers and providers want to be assured of a secured financial network and that it operates within a personalized value-based care ecosystem. With the help of blockchain systems, claim adjudication, automated payment processing, credentials management, and regulations conformance will have reduced administrative costs and operational time for providers and payers, with very high security and full transparency at their very backbone.
Progressive technology without limitations
Blockchain is a young technology that is open to all, irrespective of age or gender. During a recent webinar powered by Himss Women in Tech, a robust dialogue was shared on the topic of Women in Blockchain: Making a Difference in Healthcare through Distributed Ledger Technology.
Here are some insights from the successful women working with blockchain.
Chrissa McFarlane, the Founder and CEO of Patientory, Inc. shared how she got involved with blockchain technology coming from healthcare background after seeing the need in the market for more personalized and secure consumer-driven health information management solutions.
Heather Flannery, Co-Founder of Blockchain in Healthcare Global, IEE ISTO noted that creating change in the really conservative healthcare field is about being extremely thoughtful and intentional about how we are shaping systems and relationships and culture and not talking for granted what’s happening right now.
Emily Vaughn, Blockchain Product Development Director at Change Healthcare also shared some specific examples of healthcare use cases the blockchain technology has been able to deal with across financial, clinical and engagement verticals. The benefits, like transactions cost reduction, empowered complex analytics, infrastructure improvements and fraud reduction are also seen with blockchain.