What do new technologies and the healthcare industry have in common? As it turns out – a lot. Our article is about the problems this sector has to deal with and how blockchain can help.
Urgent problems in healthcare
One of the pressing problems is the lack of a universal patient identification system. Why is it so important? This is one of the reasons for mismatched patient EHRs (Electronic Health Record). According to statistics, as much as half of the patient records are mismatched when data is transferred between healthcare systems. One in five patient records is not accurately matched even within the same health care system. It is estimated that between 2009 and 2018, more than 176 million patient records were exposed in data breaches. It includes both banking information and genomic testing records. The alarming thing is that there was a 44.44% (month-over-month) increase in the healthcare data breaches in October 2019. It means that over 600 000 healthcare records were reported as impermissibly disclosed, exposed, or stolen in those breaches.
One of the major problems affecting this industry is also insurance fraud. It includes unnecessary medical care, illegally prescribed medications, false claims of corruption. It is estimated that medical fraud only in the USA costs about $68 billion a year. In 2014, the USA’s government recovered nearly $5,7 billion in healthcare fraud cases, but that’s still a small part of the problem.
Another pressing problem is the illegal sale of drugs. Regarding Health Research Funding Organisation, 10% to 30% of the drugs sold in developing countries are counterfeit. An even bigger problem is that 16% of counterfeit drugs contain the wrong ingredients, while 17% have incorrect levels of necessary ingredients. That’s why pharmaceutical companies must place great emphasis on the safety of the entire supply chain of drugs. It is estimated that companies lose $200 billion annually due to counterfeit medicines.
Blockchain as a solution for healthcare problems
According to a BIS Research report, the healthcare industry could save up to $100 billion per year by 2025, thanks to blockchain. These savings are due to reductions of data breach-related costs, IT costs, operations costs, support function and personnel costs, counterfeit-related frauds, and insurance frauds.
Blockchain enables pharmaceutical companies to track drugs along the entire supply chain, making it harder for thefts and allowing rapid detection of irregularities. It ensures higher security of our data, provides informational transparency, and enables us to have real-time and up-to-date information. Thanks to this, it is possible to identify fraudulent claims faster and minimize insurance fraud.
A few examples
One of the first global leaders in blockchain technology, Estonia, has a nationwide electronic health record system, which integrates and stores data from healthcare and other sectors using blockchain. Blockchain assures data integrity and system access logs, which improves security. Another leader is The United Arab Emirates. UEA’s strategy covers i.a. using blockchain in the healthcare system to track health professional licenses.
No wonder global blockchain in the healthcare market is estimated to reach $5.61 billion by 2025. Implementing blockchain technology could help solve pressing problems in the healthcare industry, costing us hundreds of billions of dollars annually.