How will the deployment of blockchain technology in healthcare market help healthcare providers and payers complement their service portfolio?
Unleashing a remarkable potential for improving patient care, the blockchain technology in healthcare market has triggered innumerable innovations in the fields of drug supply chain management, patient data exchange, payments management and clinical studies. Decentralization of vital data sets while reinforcing protocols for authorized sharing have enabled blockchain developers to create ecosystems which deliver accuracy, facilitate timely decision making and are centered around the needs of patients.
Healthcare businesses today are expanding beyond territories and are highly dependent on effective deployment of IoT devices. Subsequent exposure to security threats, rising cases of drug counterfeiting and insurance frauds as well as erratic payments administration have established the need for implementing blockchain technology across the value chain. In fact, IBM had revealed a study according to which 56% of healthcare executives were expected to adopt blockchain across business processes by 2020.
Being one of the most critical business sectors worldwide, it is only logical that the healthcare segment adopts the most secure transactional platforms available today. For decades, tampering of data and disappearance of key records have resulted in the loss of billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and healthcare payers alike. The brunt of the impact ultimately falls on consumers of medical products and facilities, also instigating legislative actions and affecting brand loyalty. Eventually, the blockchain technology in healthcare market is garnering support from governments, institutions and prominent investors to strengthen the core of business operations and deliver an impermeable patient care and financial network.
Enumerating ways in which the implementation of the blockchain will enhance the services of healthcare providers and payers
As blockchain enables the creation of a single master ledger for records and requires a consent from all parties to add a new transaction, it helps to eliminate the possibilities of fraudulent entries and unauthorized changes to data. If we consider the immense rate at which IoT devices and connectivity technologies are being developed globally, blockchain will undoubtedly find its way into a majority of novel healthcare applications. For healthcare payers and providers, expanding the technology to provide better services to patients, maintaining the integrity of data and offering convenient new features will form the crux of blockchain implementation.
1. Managing and Monitoring Medical Supplies
It is estimated that globally, close to US$200 billion is lost each year owing to counterfeit drugs and medications, indicating significant weaknesses in conventional supply chain management. Apart from pharmaceutical companies, the supply network consists of wholesalers, pharmacies, hospitals and several smaller healthcare providers. By decentralizing asset management to provide a trackable source of goods movement, which cannot be tampered externally, all transactions taking place among supply chain partners can be stored and shared accurately. Consequently, the incursion of counterfeit medicine will become difficult with the existence of an impenetrable supply chain data system.
Undeniably, the blockchain technology in healthcare industry will boost the reliability of medical supply chain, which comprises numerous producers and vendors spread over a global network. It will further help in improving the predictability and availability of critical drugs to cater to the ever-increasing patient population. With a decentralized ledger connecting data between a supplier and many healthcare providers, it will become easier to monitor the consumption of medicine and forecast orders, speeding up and automating the procurement process.
2. Preventing Fraud and Malpractices
Healthcare providers and payers can avoid being a victim of improper or over billing for medical aid, by recording every transaction and using updated product data to monitor any payments to suppliers. Recently, a healthcare provider was ordered to pay more than US$209 million in settlements for knowingly dispensing hundreds of thousands of insulin pens to health program beneficiaries who did not require them. In a separate settlement, the company was also found to be overbilling Medicaid customers and asked to pay US$60 million for resolving the issue. To lower the probabilities of such practices, a distributed ledger system could provide an audit trail that cannot be manipulated and offer price transparency to healthcare payers.
False claims are also a notable concern for insurance payers, putting their revenues on risk and needing the integration of several data analysis tools along with investments in other fraud prevention methods. Using blockchain technology, the electronic medical records of patients, their identities, payments to healthcare providers and previous claim details can be stored on a secure ledger to be accessed and reviewed, allowing seamless and efficient data exchange between insurance companies and those who provide patient care.
3. Offering Innovative Services
Deployment of a blockchain system in telecare can help keep a patient’s data protected and safeguard all members in the network. Telecare is gaining momentum all over the globe due to the rapid expansion of communication technology and the presence of necessary infrastructure in remote places. Expounding on the prospects, the information about a patient’s health, medical records, consultation notes and insurance payments can be stored on a blockchain platform and can connect them with their doctors, pharmacies and other healthcare providers remotely. In essence, propagation of telecare services and the necessity to ensure the security of their network will tremendously propel the demand for blockchain technology in healthcare market.
Constant innovations in health monitoring and tracking have instigated the development of portable technologies infused with biometric features. Wearable devices can now track a person’s movements and health metrics in real-time, generating a key source of data to help healthcare providers improve patient care. Incorporating blockchain technology into the network of patient information obtained from smart watches, wristbands, fitness apps and other sources will assist healthcare providers to store, access and share the data to from treatment strategies or identify trends. Healthcare payers like insurance companies can also utilize the information to offer additional benefits to customers, depending on how patients maintain their health.
Latest initiatives representing expansion of the blockchain technology in healthcare market
Apparently, numerous pilot projects worldwide are being conducted to prove the benefits of blockchain in specific use cases for the healthcare industry. Many experts are of the view that blockchain will not replace enterprise networks but would be working in conjunction with them. The industry is witnessing several initiatives undertaken by healthcare providers and payers to establish a foothold in the market, fostering partnerships and strategic acquisitions. Providence St. Joseph Health, for instance, recently acquired Lumedic, a Seattle-based developer of blockchain-powered revenue cycle management platform. Using the team of Lumedic, Providence St. Joseph Health aims to build a new company and further deploy the distributed ledger technology, machine learning and smart contracts.
Separately, the Bitfury Group and Longenesis recently confirmed the formation of a partnership with Medical Diagnostics Web, to develop a next-generation platform for sharing, maintaining and securing medical diagnostics and imaging data. The project would deliver a more discrete and robust system while using the novel technology to enhance trust in transactions recorded on the platform. The above deals are representative of the ongoing growth tactics being adopted by healthcare players to keep pace with escalating security and data management requirements. In addition, a number of healthcare systems and mobile-based services are enabling the acceptance of cryptocurrency payments, further bolstering the safety of transactions and extending the scope of blockchain technology in healthcare market.