What else does blockchain have to offer for healthcare?

02 October 2019 in Blockchain , Healthcare

In a previous blog, we discussed the blockchain and what the impact of blockchain technology could have. In this post, we want to put more focus on some underlying mechanisms that realize the safety of the blockchain. In addition to safety, these mechanisms also offer other interesting applications within the healthcare sector.

Blockchain in the healthcare

No more single point of failure

An important mechanism of a blockchain is that there is not one central database that contains everything, but that the database of transactions (blockchain) is stored with multiple parties. Essentially, there is a copy of the database at every party that participates in the blockchain. This comes with a number of benefits. For example, it makes data storage less vulnerable to lose, since there are multiple copies, which is a security benefit.

Another advantage is that no one party manages this database, which is now done by all parties involved on the basis of consensus. This means that there is no single ruler. A set-up that fits well with situations in which multiple parties are involved in a process, each with its own responsibility. Looking at healthcare, where many parties are often involved in providing healthcare, such a model fits very well.

The attentive reader will say that having multiple copies is also a risk because there are more places where the data can be stolen or manipulated. Basically, that is true, but blockchain also has some safety features for that. A great subject for a future blog.

No more exchanging data but building a joint file

As described above, each party has a copy of the blockchain database. This database consists of transactions that are saved in a manner similar to a ledger transaction. In principle, every participant, for example, a care provider, care office, client or municipality, can add transactions such as file information, a decision or declaration into the blockchain. What a party may add depends on the agreements made within the chain. Each party can, therefore, add the information that is relevant. However, such a transaction is only really added if it has been validated by a majority of the parties (consensus) in the blockchain.

This is, by the way, an automated process, whereby not every participant has to check off transactions. So not only does each participant have a copy of the database, but the content is also built and validated together. There is one common truth to which information is added and checked together. Again a security aspect: information cannot be adjusted just like that, internally or externally, without the other parties in the chain being aware of this. These are important features of the blockchain solutions.

Struggling Administration

There are opportunities here for healthcare because several parties in the chain are involved in the healthcare process, such as the referrer, financier, healthcare provider (s) and the client. The joint building of one administration, without there being one dominant owner, provides transparency and control. 

After all, everyone looks at the same data and participated in the validation. This provides a number of substantial benefits. Because there is one trusted joint administration, the number of duplicate administrations in the chain is reduced, resulting in fewer actions and fewer differences between these administrations. This clarity ensures less miscommunication, research, and repair work. 

For example, when applying the Be-Better 4 Social Domain blockchain platform, we see that there is a substantial saving on the administrative burden for all parties in the chain within the declaration process. Due to less rejection in the declaration, less administration and faster payment of declarations (liquidity).

Is all the data in the blockchain?

Is all data actually stored in the blockchain? Although there are different views on this, the general opinion is that it should not all be stored in the blockchain. The blockchain only contains a reference to the original data in the original source system and a check to see whether the original data has not been modified. Ergo the various parties keep their source systems but can see data via the blockchain that is not stored in their own source system (if authorized of course).

An additional advantage is a better grip on the AVG. Instead of copying the data across all parties, it is clear via the blockchain where the source of the data is. This way, authorizations can be managed better and, for example, the rights of clients can be complied with much more easily, such as adjustments or deletions from the file.

A new trust model

Trust within blockchain

To conclude, the blockchain offers a higher level of security and a different trust model for parties who work together, such as in the healthcare sector. By building a joint administration without one party owning it, but to which each participant adds data from his responsibility (recording at the source) which is transparent and validated by the parties.

Author: Jouke Langhout, Be-Better

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