The healthcare industry needs the most developments. Since the pandemic, when healthcare workers were exposed to so many risks, we realized how flawed the system is. In some regions, technological advancements are lacking, and healthcare providers use outdated practices for keeping records safely.
But one recent tool could change everything: blockchain technology that works through smart contracts. These programs are made to run when predetermined conditions are met. Smart contracts help automate workflow without the need for someone to check the process.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll touch on how smart contracts can revolutionize the healthcare system.
Table of Contents
Blockchain and supply chain management
The healthcare supply chain is facing challenges that are difficult to overcome, from drug shortages to poor workflow design. At the same time, the lack of integrations negatively impacts profit and creates waste since there are no centralized purchasing channels. But using blockchain technology can reduce these issues.
First of all, programming blockchain-based systems through smart contracts would be helpful in tracking items from the manufacturing point and monitoring them at each stage. Providing complete visibility and transparency on the purchased products can eliminate profit shortages and waste. Using smart contracts to verify the products’ delivery origin would also minimize the use of counterfeit drugs, which cause harm to people who take them.
Other benefits of using blockchain for supply chain management include:
- Customer confidence regarding manufacturers’ authenticity and the shipping process;
- Compliance with law enforcement by receiving notifications programmed with smart contracts;
- Supply chain optimization through predicting future demands and needs;
Blockchain and record keeping
Medical errors are among the leading causes of death worldwide, and it happens because healthcare workers from most countries struggle to keep up with record-keeping and maintain all patient files in place while diagnosing simultaneously. Plus, in times when medical emergencies are rising (around holidays or when diseases are spreading rapidly), it’s usual that medical staff is
burdened with too many tasks, which often results in deadly consequences for patients.
Smart contracts programming could minimize these outcomes by providing a blockchain-based system like with an existing electronic medical record software. Therefore, prescription notes or lab results can be transformed into unique hash functions that can be decoded if the owners agree. Using blockchain for this purpose has the following benefits:
- Providing a comprehensive source of the patient’s medical records;
- Setting limits on how long third parties can access medical information;
- Cutting intermediary costs regarding validating confirmation from medical insurers;
Blockchain for better employment practices
Tracking the experience of medical professionals is still challenging since the system is prone to hiring false or troubling healthcare providers. But with blockchain technology, every piece of information regarding medical staff can be checked so that the hiring process can be streamlined better. At the same time, smart contracts could ease the payroll system by providing a decentralized platform for medical staff to access quickly.
As many businesses have started to accept cryptocurrency payments, companies are beginning to pay their employees with tokens since it’s a more accessible practice, especially for more significant ones. Using cryptocurrencies these days is one of the best ways to save money and start investing for the future, so if medical staff wants to know where to buy Ethereum, for example, they can check the Ethereum price today and supply their digital wallets frequently.
Some other advantages of using blockchain technology for staff credential verification and payments are:
- Faster credentialing during the hiring process;
- The opportunity for medical professionals to monetize their data;
- Transparency and reassurance for business partners;
Blockchain and insurance
Smart contracts are efficient for programming a blockchain-based system where companies (wholesalers or insurers) can authenticate their identities and track transactions between them and hospitals regarding goods and services, as well as payment settlements. Choosing to operate in a fully-digital based approach can automate contract terms and minimize risks of misunderstandings or human errors.
Such a system can also reduce disputes over payment chargeback claims because anyone has the exact version of the contracts and agreements on the blockchain, so there’s no need for each company to own a different version of these contracts. This would be an improvement since there are plenty of chargeback claims made between such companies since pricing structures often change.
Finally, smart contracts can be used for managing medical insurance contracts so that once the information is digitized, insurance providers can optimize health outcomes and costs by applying more advanced analytics and practices.
Blockchain for security and remote monitoring
Security is among the most significant issues in the health sector since it’s where most data breaches occur. Medical companies must ensure that patient data is private and secure and that no third party is accessing it for illicit purposes. However, providing cybersecurity for hospitals and other related businesses has been quite challenging recently, especially after the pandemic.
But using blockchain technology and monitoring all information through such systems would be an impenetrable practice since it’s almost impossible to hack blockchains.
Writing programs with smart programs are done through cryptography, a technology stored on the blockchain with a unique hash function that cannot be decoded that easily. So, once patient data is recorded, it would be impossible to use it since it would also need the person to access all stored copies. This feature also blocks many of the most dangerous cyberattacks (DDoS) so that security is enhanced and data is secure.
Since no centralized server needs to be maintained, remote monitoring is also permitted through IoT (Internet of Things) devices that can interact directly with each other. We know that remote monitoring is also rising since it allows patients to get proper treatment and monitoring from a distance and health care providers to be able to reach anyone in need.
Blockchain technology could help the healthcare system by providing the latest technological practices and methods for securing data and streamlining diverse processes. Although this approach is only in its early stage, we expect that blockchain technology and smart contracts will be indispensable to healthcare providers in the future.