Step Aside Currency: It’s Time for Blockchain to Go Medical

3 Promising Blockchain Opportunities in Healthcare

Blockchain is no longer only about bits and coins anymore. Today many industries are studying the power and possibilities of an encrypted digital ledger. They are asking, “What can blockchain do for us?” Based on what I am seeing, the industry with one of the best near-term opportunities for taking advantage of blockchain’s distributed peer-to-peer topology is healthcare.

Why? First, because there is a critical need and resounding demand for highly secure systems that can manage data transactions and privacy across divergent entities (hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, etc.). Blockchain, which is defined by MIT’s Technology Review as “a mathematical structure for storing data in a way that is nearly impossible to fake,” is a way for institutions to both protect and rapidly share patient and business data. For anyone who has to fill out a form each time they visit a doctor or dentist, the concept of the right data being securely shared across trusted healthcare providers is promising. Eliminating waiting room clipboards and handwriting cramps is only the start. Let’s consider three of the promising uses for blockchain technology in the healthcare field.


  1. Give Patients Control over Their Personal Data
    The healthcare industry is constantly collecting data from patients. What is often forgotten in that process is that the data belongs to the patient. With blockchain, patients have the potential to truly own their data and control it in terms of who knows what aspects of their medical status. Today businesses make money out of patient’s data. What if the patient could manage and sell their own data? That requires full control of the data and data access.


How would it work? Medical information would be stored in a chain that the patient controls an electronic health record (EHR). That means the patient says which healthcare providers and family members can access which information by leveraging blockchain’s smart contract capabilities.


  1. Create Single Patient Records
    Patient data lives in countless places. It’s hard for an individual to track down their own records, from vaccines to hospital visits to medications. Blockchain has a tremendous capacity to consolidate and streamline all patient data because nothing can be altered or deleted. Once data is in the chain (a block) it never leaves it. Rather than data records in multiple places, everything in a patient’s medical journey (visits, lab results, treatments, family histories, etc.) is contained in one central, unchangeable record.


  1. IoT Security for Medical Devices 
    Recent news has highlighted the heavy security and privacy risks associated with IoT (Internet of Things) devices today. In the month of May 2018, Amazon’s Alexa was all over the news for recording and sending out a family’s private conversation in their own home. Far beyond Alexa, connected devices have been the cause of numerous large-scale cyber-attacks worldwide because of their software vulnerabilities. Wearable medical devices offer incredible opportunities for patients, such as connected insulin pumps for Type 1 Diabetics. However, the software they use to talk to various systems and entities means they require many software and security updates to keep data secure. Systems that fall behind in those updates are vulnerable.


Blockchain has the potential to solve this by becoming the central, incorruptible system for security and software updatesHow? IoT devices would be programmed to check in regularly with a blockchain-based system for security and privacy updates. The cryptographic structure of blockchain, including smart contract capabilities would ensure fraudulent devices could not engage the system. Meanwhile, the blockchain ledger would record every update, tracking the integrity of the device.



Only the Start
While these are three promising opportunities for blockchain in healthcare, it’s only the start of how it will change the systems and data across the industry. To explore the potential of blockchain for your organization, contact Intelliswift and learn more.