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The Game Changer That Will Dramatically Shift the Way We Go to the Doctor

Doctor-patient relationships have changed forever and Blockchain will help security catch up.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

COVID-19 has catalyzed a new wave of innovation and technological advancement in the world of health delivery. Trends such as telehealth and digital care have been some of the most popular. According to analysts from Definitive Healthcare, digital health visits increased by over 6000% as everyone from startups to multinational corporations sprung into action to offer accessible options.

To deal with this new era of health, equally innovative solutions will be needed. One of the most important is Blockchain.

Related: 6 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Invest in Healthcare

Why we should care

"The safeguarding and mobilization of health data will be one of the most fundamental elements of the future of healthcare," says Hamed Shahbazi, Founder and CEO of WELL Health, Canada's largest clinic operator. "Empowering patients to consciously and safely engage with data learning algorithms and receive clear and actionable insights will be a game-changer that will significantly expand health outcomes and life expectancy".

Consider the tradeoffs we're making on a case-by-case basis: We are unable to use our own data to plan our lifestyles and long-term healthcare, including our treatment plans, drugs, and medical supplies, insurance or Medicare supplements and how we use our health savings accounts.

All of this information about us is kept in various databases by a variety of providers, pharmacies, insurance companies, local, state and national governments. We don't have access to this data, but third parties like the American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA) do, often without our awareness and we carry the brunt of the risk and responsibility for its cleanup if it's lost or exploited.

AMCA was hacked in 2019, and the hackers stole the personal information of around 5 million people whose lab tests were processed by AMCA.

Related: The Future of Healthcare Is in the Cloud

However, there are some health companies that are using data for good. Take the company DeFit that is incentivizing people to stay in shape with their health data. Defit pays its users crypto just for exercising and staying conscious of their health. Unfortunately these kind of companies appear to be in the minority making it even more important to demand better data options. Those who do not have access to the Internet at all may not have data profiles or privacy issues in and of itself, although they frequently do. None of these clients are subjected to the onslaught of fraud alerts and phishing schemes aimed at patients.

Our privacy, as well as that of our family, is constantly in jeopardy.

A quick blockchain primer

First and foremost, you need to understand what the blockchain is in order to get a better picture of how it can revolutionize health delivery around the world.

At its core, it is a distribution system for recording and maintaining transaction data. It allows for an immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions that is created from connected transaction blocks and kept in a digital ledger.

For each participant in a network to engage, blockchain relies on well-established cryptographic mechanisms. (for example, storing, exchanging, and seeing information) without the parties' prior trust. There is no central authority in a blockchain system; instead, transaction records are maintained and dispersed among all network participants.

Interactions with the blockchain are visible to all parties and need network verification before information can be added, allowing for trustless collaboration between network participants while also keeping an immutable audit trail of all transactions.

Related: How Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Can Revolutionize Businesses

Why it's a game-changer

According to a recent TechSci Research research, the technology in healthcare is expected to increase at a 70% compound annual growth rate over the next seven years due to increasing data breaches in the business.

According to Karan Chechi, Research Director at TechSci Research, the largest demand should be seen in North America.

Blockchain is crucial to all of this for a number of reasons.

First, it allows sensitive information to be securely exchanged without the need to copy it, which can help decrease mistakes in records. The information is also time-stamped, which adds to its security while offering the potential to safeguard payments in a variety of healthcare settings.This minimizes the need for heavy, expensive equipment while also lowering costs

Second, blockchain enables scientists and healthcare researchers all across the world to share research data, allowing them to work together to solve complicated problems.

The challenges Blockchain integration will face

According to a recent report from research firm PreScouter, blockchain must overcome ten major hurdles before it can be widely adopted in the healthcare, medical technology, and biopharmaceutical industries.

  1. Data normalization
  2. Change management and innovation are both being implemented.
  3. Blockchain interoperability
  4. Patents & Intellectual Property (IP) on the Blockchain
  5. Protected health data data security
  6. Permissive and non-permissive blockchain scalability
  7. Regulatory bodies that assist in the onboarding of new employees
  8. Deploying smart contracts is number eight on the list.
  9. Operational expenses
  10. Companies that provide blockchain services

The paper also notes that the United States Food and Drug Administration and IBM are currently employing blockchain to maintain track of vaccine and prescription batch records.

Related: Why Blockchain Matters to Small Businesses

Clinical trial management

Blockchain has the potential to simplify drug trials by securely securing patient data while assuring transparency and communication between patients/study participants, sponsors, health-care professionals, regulators and other stakeholders.

Partnership agreements based on "smart contracts," for example, might make patient records easier to manage across a variety of data repositories—from patient permission forms to medical records.

It's time for us to start treating our personal information with the same respect that top IT companies do. We must see its true worth in all facets of our lives and blockchain technology can assist us in this endeavor, allowing us to take preventative measures with our data in order to improve our health.

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