Is Blockchain The Answer To A Better Healthcare Industry?
Data breaches are the nightmare of every major industry. When they occur, the aftermath costs of fixing the problem can be huge. According to a global study conducted by IBM and Ponemon Institute, in 2017 the cost of a data breach that occured in a major company averaged $3.62 million.
The healthcare industry suffers the highest toll in terms of the cost of breaches, being about $380 per single compromised patient record, which is 2.5 times the global average when compared to other industries.
The other major issue with healthcare is that it is a heavily regulated industry in terms of privacy, and for good reason. Personal healthcare information, along with all of the other data therein (birthdates, social security numbers, payment data, etc.) should be some of the most highly protected information on the planet, according to Jack Liu, CEO of ALLIVE, an intelligent healthcare ecosystem based on blockchain technology that provides encrypted health profile, personal AI doctor and comprehensive healthcare services.
The balancing act of accessibility versus security
Patients are taking more control over their health care needs, and the industry has responded by setting up database systems (EHR/EMR) that hold individual healthcare records. Patients can now access their data stored by healthcare providers with a username and password. Also, there’s Olife–one of the three components of ALLIVE–which gives people back control of their personal health data by encrypting and storing them on the blockchain. In the name of transparency this is a good thing.
At the same time, healthcare providers want to be able to share individual patient information among themselves when that becomes necessary e.g. when a patient is transferred to another institution. To this end, the U.S. government has even provided over $1.2 billion in funding to healthcare providers who work toward consolidated records on patients, so that there is a single “file” to which all individual practitioners have access. This is efficient and ensures that no condition, medication, etc. is overlooked as treatment protocols are implemented.
But with all of this consolidation and storage in cyberspace comes the clear threat of breaches. And the healthcare industry must look to innovative and more secure methods of both storage and transmission. The answer may very well lie in blockchain technology.
The promise of blockchain for the healthcare industry
While most associate blockchain technology with cryptocurrency, its use for a surprising number of industries is now being explored and implemented. Why? Because information and data are stored in immutable ‘blocks’ that cannot be altered and cannot be accessed without key codes provided to those who have permissioned access to the data.
The implications for the healthcare industry are pretty clear. Here are just a few examples of how exactly blockchain can improve data security.