Use cases for blockchain in healthcare

With Covid-19 taking over healthcare matters across the world, innovation within the sector is becoming increasingly vital in order to maintain service efficiency and minimise errors, and one of the technologies that is making this possible is blockchain.

Research from IDC has estimated that 55% of all healthcare applications will have employed blockchain for commercial purposes by 2025.

But how exactly has blockchain been disrupting the healthcare industry? Here are some prominent use cases.

Cracking down on counterfeit medication

One major issue that is present within healthcare is the production of counterfeit prescription drugs. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that one in 10 medical products in low and middle income countries are forged or substandard.

Companies such as Quant aim to solve this issue using smart contracts and interoperability between blockchains to cut out middlemen and increase efficiency.

“Data from embedded identification markers used to track individual products and components, can be recorded onto distributed ledger technology (DLT) to provide a single source of truth with full transparency, accuracy, and accountability at every stage in the supply chain,” explained Gilbert Verdian, founder and CEO of Quant.

“This is achieved through the shared nature of the ledger and the immutability that it offers, and with the data available to all participants, this solution has the potential to eliminate the need for intermediaries – and hence, opportunistic criminals – abusing the system.

“The impact of such an approach would be dramatic. In fact, according to a new report by the market intelligence company BIS Research, blockchain-based supply chains would reduce revenue loss to pharmaceutical companies by up to $43 billion annually, as well as benefit others who inadvertently purchase counterfeit drugs.”

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Verdian went on to explain that networks being incapable of exchanging information is a common barrier that the pharma industry faces.

He added: “Global pharmaceutical supply chains usually involve multiple stakeholders, resulting in potentially non-interoperable DLTs and networks. Consequently, cross-party collaboration of these stakeholders is an essential starting point, and even this may not be enough.

“An agreement to invest in, and use, the same technology whilst having worked on some occasions, in some sectors, may not be suitable for pharmaceutical supply given the number of parties involved, as well as geographical breadth. Therefore, the development and implementation of effective decentralised tracing solutions is time consuming and costly.

“In addition to this, as DLT rapidly evolves, these solutions will require frequent and expensive upgrades. The answer, to overcome this, is therefore interoperability between all DLTs.

“By enabling connectivity and easy access to disparate and multiple DLTs, Quant’s Overlegder OS can now facilitate globally connected, interoperable, transparent and trustworthy supply chains that are not only less susceptible to corruption, but more cost-efficient, too.”

Testing Covid-19 health statuses

Another way in which blockchain has been aiding the healthcare sector is by being implemented into applications that test the health status of individuals, such as an upcoming application from Blockchain Reply.

The healthcred solution app will allow business and sporting organisations to verify the health status of individuals, while safeguarding their personal information. The app, which will be available on any smartphone, is due to be tested with an event organiser in the coming weeks and will launch officially later this year.

The solution is based on blockchain technology and uses an advanced cryptographic method called ‘zero-knowledge proofs’, which provides a means to confirm the validity of a value without revealing the data that proves it. This method dramatically reduces the risk of fraud.

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Streamlining health insurance

Thirdly, smart contracts powered by blockchain can make purchasing health insurance simpler and quicker for patients. Instead of spending time filing claims, smart contracts can enable quicker money transfers from the hospital to the patient, upon automatic activation.

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Implementing blockchain into this process can also increase the security of policy data, as well as making it easier for all relevant stakeholders to access, with it being stored on the patient’s profile.

By using this model, intermediaries such as drug wholesalers and retailers will not need to be present for health insurance cases.

See also: Blockchain technology applications in healthcare

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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