If You Think Blockchain is Only For Banking, Think Again!

Blockchain is slowly expanding its territory into other sectors - healthcare in particular

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Every fintech specific event that you attend these days will definitely have a segment on Blockchain with experts talking about how it's going to revolutionize the financial technology sector. Banks have been further stirring up the blockchain mania, while start-ups have followed suit. Amid all of this, blockchain is slowly expanding its territory into other sectors — healthcare in particular.


Need for Blockchain in Healthcare

Blockchain is lauded for the transparency it brings to business by being a digital ledger where transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly. Moreover, the usage of this technology in healthcare gives way to faster inter and intra-communication to exchange data regarding patients, researches and cases.

Excited about the prospects it brings along with it, Dr Amit Garg, Medical Head, emerging markets, Dr Reddy's said: "The essence of blockchain remains in the fact that wherever there is a transaction, especially in the supply-chain market, it can be implemented. The technology will ensure that transactions in the healthcare sector, be it with the pharmacist or large hospital transactions, are all genuine." Garg also spoke about how it can be used in various fields within healthcare.

"It can even be used to keep a clear track record of clinical trials, helping practitioners track patients. The company conducting the trial can then check if the patients have been in a different trial in the past 30 days," he said.

The Dissemination of Data Will Become an Easier Task

The healthcare industry is a storehouse for information given the number of transactions that occur every day and also the amount of research that goes on in the industry. "Patient's data is stored with the help of various third party agencies and is basically disseminated with the help of notes. But with the advent of IoT or blockchain, the scenario might change," said Dr Garg.

The importance remains in the fact that with the help of blockchain, management of data across hospitals will become an easier task. Experts, too, stress upon the need for proper communication channels.

Deepankar Kapoor, Founder of Bitcoinwiser.com, said, "It is imperative for the healthcare sector to have an accurate, reliable and privacy-preserving data sharing system. However, in most countries around the world, including India, this system is fragmented and individual patient records are kept in isolated data storage facility managed by autonomous healthcare providers. For example, data of a patient's medical history is fragmented among GPs, specialists, chemists and hospitals. Clinicians and medical staff face many challenges while trying to communicate data with entities or personnel outside of the organisation they work for."

Trials Underway Abroad

Healthtech professionals overseas have already been toying with the idea of implementing blockchain and are also betting big on the technology with huge investments pouring in. Sharing an example with us, Kapoor said, "Sydney-based Cyph MD leverages asymmetric cryptography, which is the use of private and public keys to encrypt and decrypt data. The asymmetric cryptography is paired with a hierarchical certificate system so that every healthcare provider can issue "identity tokens' to its practitioners, who have been digitally signed by the hospital.

"This allows for communication among different stakeholders within the healthcare sector. Practitioners and institutes undergo a one-off identity check and use online "identity tokens' to securely communicate and share data across the entire healthcare network.

"Cyph MD has been built on top of the Ethereum Blockchain, a decentralised platform that runs smart contracts on its shared global infrastructure without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference."