Blockchain Applications in Healthcare Use Cases
If decentralized networks are streets and superhighways, blockchain applications that use smart contract programming are the self-driving cars making up the traffic flow. Smart contracts self-execute according to predetermined agreements between multiple parties. The code exists across the distributed blockchain network and is then triggered by a specific event. This technology opens up the doors for endless automation possibilities that could greatly improve current healthcare delivery systems. The sky is the limit when it comes to use cases in healthcare.
Here is a list of more popular proposed blockchain applications in healthcare use cases, some of which are already in development:
Electronic Medical Records
Electronic Medical Records on the blockchain are the #1 use case for blockchain applications in healthcare. Why? Because a single, longitudinal and tamper-proof patient record could be made possible thanks to distributed ledger technology. This would place all vaccines, lab results, treatment strategies, and prescription history in a central linear ledger stored on a decentralized peer-to-peer network.
Users can share, learn, and earn with their personal medical information. Prevention or treatment could be incentivized for patients through tokenization. Using tokens to motivate community members to improve public health outcomes not only helps in building a healthier general population, it additionally becomes an income stream for participants and stimulates the economy.
Prescription Medicine Compliance
Millions are spent annually on prescription medicine incidence due to improper patient compliance. Medication adherence problems are endemic and costly for individual patients who suffer and the healthcare system as a whole. Incentive for improved medication adherence could be tokenization through APIs that help gamify the prescription-taking process (see the previous use case). Adherence information stored on the blockchain can be a more accessible place for doctors and patients to communicate and follow up with pharmaceutical interventions over time.
Automated Health Insurance (Claims Adjudication)
With the use of smart contract programming on the blockchain, claims can be verified via a p2p network and executed automatically. Without a biased central authority claims fraud could be eliminated through the trustless blockchain environment, which will also help to speed up the claims process.
The blockchain can facilitate more personalized treatments for individuals based on improved EHRs. When superior, easy-to-share data is in place over time it can even import family medical histories to encourage more tailor-made interventions. No two patients are the same, and healthcare providers know this, but do not have the current resources available to have even the most routine checkups be personalized.
Medical Product Supply Chain Tracking
Companies that vend products to patients through the medical care system have to navigate an incredibly complex supply chain, especially when prescriptions are involved. When items or medication need to be recalled it is difficult to trace the products back to their origins. When blockchain applications are used to record the exchange of goods and services a neat and linear audit trail is created. The transaction history can authenticate products automatically to decrease counterfeiting and better recall medications with harmful side effects.
Telehealth Provider Credentialing
As Telehealth becomes a more viable remote-care option, patients are looking for verification that online care providers are the real deal. Introducing blockchain to auto-verify licensure and send out updates to users could help keep telehealth costs down. Notifications could also be sent when there is a new health practitioner on the rooster accepting patients.
Patient Consent Management
All patient consent paperwork could be verified on the blockchain, instead of relying on office personnel to authenticate. Prior to visiting the doctor’s office, patients can use blockchain portals to record their symptoms and give their consent to treatment immutably. These timestamped and secure documents have the potential to settle malpractice lawsuits in a more timely and affordable fashion.
Blockchain Payment Platforms
Payment platforms on the blockchain are more secure and faster. Health insurance on the blockchain can automatically release funds held in a smart contract when a trigger event (like a patient getting a lab test) occurs. Users can hold their own funds in a smart contract tucked away for medical emergency co-pays for automatic out-of-pocket payments.