The healthcare industry is currently confronted with several challenges such as human errors, data security, pharmaceutical supply chain transparency, lack of interoperability between databases, and dispersity of healthcare-related information. This current situation complicates real-time sharing and access to healthcare data. However, the use of blockchain and smart contracts provide a solution to these challenges, and it may vastly improve and revolutionize the healthcare industry as a whole.
By definition, smart contracts are computer protocols or if-and-then statements that are stored in a blockchain, and when all the predetermined conditions are met, they will be executed. Smart contracts are one of the most powerful tools in innovating healthcare data management.
In this article, we will discuss the important role of smart contracts in our healthcare today.
Health Data Management
Health data management plays a vital role in the healthcare system. Their structure and contents may determine the proper diagnosis and treatment for patients to avoid medical lapses. Additionally, patients’ health data had become a prime target for cybercriminals. Third parties exploit these data for marketing or even malicious purposes making it crucial to protect and secure. Utilizing smart contracts, patients’ health data may be managed properly and securely.
Smart contracts will enable these health data to be stored on a distributed ledger. As such, if a patient needs to transfer from one hospital to another, he easily do so without having to completely fill-out numerous forms. This is because the patient’s provider can easily view his health data and medical records using the blockchain network.
Many hospitals and healthcare organizations still rely on traditional databases. These, however, may be too restrictive to allow global dissemination of potentially life-saving insights. Without blockchain and smart contracts, this information may take an extended period of time to reach the intended recipient and may be compromised.
If these health data are stored in smart contracts and distributed via the blockchain, they will be accessible to hospitals and research institutions worldwide. And with widespread adoption, a patient could walk into any hospital in the world for treatment and, upon presenting their private key, the hospital would instantly have access to their information.
Additionally, smart contracts may also make these data more accessible and transparent to both patients and providers by acting as a gatekeeper, allowing access only to those who have the private key. Private keys are cryptographic methods that enable users to grant other parties with access to their protected data. To add, combining it with blockchain technology, health data will be protected against any manipulation.
Drug Provenance and Integrity
Accordingly, pharmaceutical companies worldwide have lost billions annually due to counterfeit drugs. To combat this, it is essential to track the life cycle of the drug, from the origin of each ingredients up to its distribution. This became possible with smart contracts and blockchain. To start, all information regarding the ingredients and substances, including geographic data, will be tracked. These tracking data will then be added to the blockchain. The blockchain will ensure that this data will not be tampered with, modified, nor deleted, enabling non-repudiability. This means that once a drug has been tracked and registered, it cannot be counterfeited.
Healthcare Billing and Insurance
Smart contracts have the potential to significantly improve the traditional insurance system by removing all unnecessary intermediaries. If patients purchase their insurance through smart contracts, all policy details are automatically stored in their profile. This information will then be stored on a blockchain.
If an insured person undergoes a covered medical procedure, the smart contract is automatically triggered. This means that the insurance company’s funds will be transferred directly to the hospital. Additionally, if the provider enters into contracts with certain drug manufacturers and agrees on specific terms, including product deliveries and pricing, blockchain and smart contracts will ensure these contracts are properly and securely managed and that they are readily available to authorized users. Thus, when all predetermines conditions are met, the smart contract will automatically trigger payment to these drug manufacturers. Consequently, in case of overpayment or dispute, the smart contract may refund the purchaser according to the agreed terms.
This automation eliminates delays and hassles and ensures that medical services are paid correctly. As a result, all transactions between parties would be accelerated, ensuring that all procedures are made on time.
The healthcare industry is well-known for being conservative and slow to adapt. This, however, may change as a result of numerous companies attempting to revolutionize the industry through mobile health applications, electronic wearables, blockchain, and smart contracts.
With the use of these technologies, especially the blockchain and smart contracts, innovative healthcare data management, drug provenance and integrity, and healthcare billing and insurance are within reach. As such, patients are prepared to see a shift in healthcare toward a more digitized and technologically advanced system.
About DrKumo® Inc.
DrKumo is a technology leader in massively scalable, continuous, real-time Remote Patient Monitoring solution for Chronic Disease Management, Acute Care, Post-Operation, and Hospital Care at Home.
It solves the most painful problems in healthcare with a user-friendly solution powered by its state-of-the-art, HIPAA-compliant, mobile-enabled, continuous real-time monitoring, and AI/ML engine. Then company’s Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) technology enables patients to manage their health conditions in the comfort of their homes and supports healthcare providers with real-time intelligence for timely intervention. DrKumo revolutionizes the way people access quality health care across the world. With a culture that is innovative, collaborative, and technology-driven, DrKumo provides the most effective solutions to both patients and healthcare providers.