Applications of the blockchain in the healthcare industry

in STEMGeeks2 months ago
Greetings dear friends.

Perhaps many of us only associate blockchain technology with cryptocurrencies, but in fact it is possible to do much more than that, since its main features allow it to be used as a large unalterable data storage system or as a means for secure and private data transmission. And in the healthcare industry it is having a great impact, precisely because of its ability to maintain the security and integrity of the data being shared, which can include sensitive information about a patient's health or valuable information about the study of a clinical case.

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Source: edited image, original from pxhere.com.

Just imagine the amount of information that is stored in medical records, perhaps for some it is only about our allergies, but in other cases there may be sensitive information that should be treated confidentially, however, in many cases this information is stored in physical form, in paper formats, which do not provide any security, and in cases where the information is stored digitally, it is done centrally, and by the nature of the service provided, very little attention is paid to security protocols.

If not, let's look at the headline from Redacciónmedica.com which states:

"Cyberattacks on hospitals grow 500% during Covid pandemic."

According to the press release, during the pandemic, hospitals became the target of hackers, with attacks growing exponentially since the arrival of Covid-19, especially using malicious software or ransomware, because stealing patients' medical information or clinical research and asking for ransom for the data or to avoid disclosure became very lucrative.


The theft of medical records has become a lucrative activity. Source: pxhere.com.

So, in this situation we realize that when it comes to our privacy, medical records do not have the best protection. And that is without considering that every time we change health centers or when our doctor sends information to an insurance company, our data is being shared with several institutions without any control.

In this sense, if we consider the value for a hospital for clinical research and for patients to keep their medical records private, we will understand that it is essential to find a way to ensure only permitted access to medical information. And a solution to this problem was offered in 2016 by MedRec, a blockchain project designed to securely and conveniently store patients' medical records; using Ethereum smart contracts, MedRec allows medical records to be shared between different healthcare providers but only patients can cryptographically sign the smart contracts, so they will always have control over who their records are shared with.

Another headache for the healthcare industry is drug traceability, i.e., tracking the entire route a drug has taken from its manufacture until it reaches the hands of a patient, thus eliminating illegal marketing or ensuring that the cold chain is not broken. And blockchain technology is the perfect tool for accurately tracking a drug's entire journey.

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blockchain technology can ensure the traceability of medicines and prevent the cold chain from being broken. Source: image elaborated in PowerPoint.

For example, the movement of many medicines, such as vaccines, depends on them being stored and transported at a specific temperature, but how do you know that throughout their journey the conditions for their transport have been ensured? Well, by making use of IoT devices and the blockchain, it is possible to verify that the medicines have arrived and have been stored at their destination under proper protocols to ensure their effectiveness.

And one company is already doing this. The company Chronicled offers a very useful solution for monitoring the cold chain that they called MediLedger Network, a system that combines a peer-to-peer messaging network and a decentralized blockchain to bridge its trading partners. For example, sensors installed in a shipment, can transmit in real time information about the temperature and humidity conditions of its contents, and if these conditions are not met automatically the system marks the shipment for return, saving time and preventing the receiver from being the one to reject it. The company's customers already include Pfizer, Gilead, Genentech and Bayer.

And through Chronicle's blockchain technology, not only is it possible to track the transport conditions of medicines, but it has also implemented functions that allow prescription drug patients to ensure the origin of the medicines, avoiding the consumption of counterfeits that can be introduced into the supply chain.

As we can see, thanks to the fact that the blockchain is conceived as a large distributed system, where data is protected by cryptographic functions, it is almost impossible for anyone to manipulate the data without the consensus of all the nodes that make up the network, which is why the healthcare industry is beginning to learn about the benefits of this technology.


Thanks for coming by to read friends, I hope you liked the information. See you next time.


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Excellent and useful post. Thank you for sharing with us.

Greetings from Venezuela!