In medicine, as in almost any other industry, innovation is always in demand. The number of people saved and the quality of services provided depends on it. Blockchain technology is one of those innovations making its way into the field. Let’s take a look at how it is being used.
EHR on a blockchain and why it is important
The era of paper-based health records might be coming to an end and will be replaced with a more efficient and digitized system that meets the needs of the modern world. We are referring to Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Basically, it is a digital format of health records that comprises patients’ medical histories, medications, allergies, laboratory test results, etc. Though it is a huge step forward, there is a key issue that has to be tackled in order to provide people with proper treatment.
Throughout our lives, we go to a variety of medical institutions for different purposes. For instance, to visit a family doctor to treat the flu, have an X-ray, or run some tests. All that medical information is collected. Traditionally those records are kept by that particular doctor. Often it is a lengthy process for a new healthcare provider to get access to your previous medical records as their systems are not connected. That means doctors might not have all your health records and as a result, it affects the health care you receive.
Collecting all the medical records and storing them in one permanent and secure place would save a lot of trouble. This is where using blockchain would be beneficial as it is protected cryptographically and only authorized people can enter it. This solution would enable doctors to access patients’ entire medical history which would help prevent prescription mistakes and other possible contraindications.
What are the benefits?
EHRs on blockchains aim to provide a secure, tamper-proof platform for storing medical records and other healthcare-related information. Here are some advantages:
Even though storing information electronically has solved many problems, it has also presented risks to data integrity and cyber-attacks. Blockchain technology provides public and private chains, and if the first one is visible to everyone, the second allows access to only authorized users. Thus, a patient whose medical record is stored on the blockchain will be able to choose whom to share it with. It would secure the patient’s personal information.
Storing information on the blockchain makes it accurate because it is updated instantly at the moment of a transaction. Once the data is refreshed and verified by all the blocks in the system, it is impossible to change or erase it. This would lower the chances of financial failures, any kinds of fraud, or illegal data shifting.
Timing is often vital when it comes to providing healthcare, especially in the case of an emergency. With the help of interoperability provided by the blockchain, providers from different regions or even countries will be able to access information about patients’ allergies, prescriptions, and previous medical history when it is needed. Having all that data, doctors would be able to act faster which could even save someone’s life or prevent medical errors.
Convenience of use
Apart from the fact that the information is always up-to-date and accurate, there is one more thing providers benefit from. It won’t be necessary to do all the paperwork any longer and doctors will have more time to focus on treating patients. This may also free up doctors which would increase their quality of life.
Researchers and doctors could improve their profession by reaching out to each other in order to collaborate, share their work and do new research based on the information found on the blockchain.
NFTs usage in EHRs
NFTs have already changed the way we see gaming and art, but what is coming next? How can we make use of this emerging technology in healthcare? Along with the blockchain, NFTs might be used to improve medical services.
In a nutshell, electronic medical records can be transformed into NFTs with all the medical information owned by a patient. Thus, they would have control over their personal data and give access to it whenever needed. Instead of sending photos of laboratory test results to different doctors and trying to collect all their medical history piece by piece, it will all be stored in one place.
The above-mentioned benefits also apply to the NFT technology. Let’s take a look at some more applications:
Track blood donation with an NFT
Blood transfusion saves millions of patients whose lives are at stake. That is why it is important to minimize the risks of negative reactions and be able to track blood products so that they reach their destination on time. By turning blood donation records into NFTs, they can be traced in real-time. As a result, we make sure it is the right blood type that meets the storage conditions. In addition, when a particular blood type is needed, it can be found as an NFT in the system and sent to where it is needed.
Health professionals can carry around their credentials locked in an NFT. It would include validated educational background comprising their medical registration, degrees, and certifications. This way patients can verify whether they are speaking to a qualified doctor and avoid running into imposters as this information has to be verified on the blockchain by an institution that issued the document.
NFTs could be important in keeping organized records in pharmaceutical supply chains. As medications made by a manufacturer are usually transported to many hospitals or pharmacies, it is difficult to trace them easily. However, if a drug is marked as an NFT, it can be tracked from the supplier to the end consumer (patient). It would prevent counterfeit medications from being distributed to the community. Furthermore, should the drug be recalled from the market, this information would reach consumers faster and warn them not to use it.
Prescriptions, like pharmaceuticals, could be tokenized. That would make the process of buying medication easier because you would not need to carry a piece of paper with you all the time and be afraid of losing it. In addition, it would secure against forged prescriptions.
Blockchain technology will have a significant effect on the healthcare sector. Its influence should not be underestimated as it addresses major issues of the current medical system and aims to change it for good. One of the things that makes this concept unique is that this decentralized peer-to-peer network would collect all medical records in one place. Not only will medical institutions become more efficient but patients will also be safer because of this technology.