Blockchain in Healthcare

A research paper on blockchain in healthcare was published. It is a collaboration between Philips Research North America in Cambridge. Blockchain Lab in Delft, The Netherlands. And Philips Research Europe in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. This paper not only explored a significant amount of blockchain use cases in the healthcare industry. It also identified many problems still left to be solved, before blockchain technology is mature enough to disrupt current systems. The respected authors behind this piece identified quantity, quality and maturity as rapidly-increasing factors in the blockchain space. Another example of a similar but less extensive research paper is: ‘’Blockchain For Health Data and Its Potential Use in Health IT and Health Care Related Research’’. As written by Laure A. Linn and Martha B. Koo, M.D. Published on The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

There are many other publications along these lines. But all of them have yet to realize that Dragonchain’s blockchain platform already has solutions to the pain points they all mention. Blockchain in healthcare could already see bigger adoption than what we see today. And Dragonchain is working with different applications around the world focused on leveraging blockchain in healthcare. Dragonchain’s public/private hybrid blockchain architecture, combined with Dragon Factor (GDPR-compliant and decentralized authentication system that gives users autonomy over their data) may very well be the missing pieces of the puzzle for many enterprises looking for solutions to improve healthcare with blockchain.

1. Blockchain interoperability with legacy systems and consortium chains.

Dragonchain’s innovative and flexible hybrid architecture allows us to provide Blockchain as a Service. Ready to deploy in healthcare and its adjacent industries. With our patented Interchain technology, interoperability issues are now a thing of the past. We believe that our cloud-based technology will be a crucial element to healthcare solutions. But it is still part of a larger whole and cannot stand on its own. Interchain allows you to integrate blockchain with existing systems. These are the systems you and your employees already use on a daily basis, bringing together all relevant parties and stakeholders in the process. By integrating with established systems, there is no need to re-train existing personnel. Your team of IT engineers and developers are able to continue using the coding languages and systems they are familiar with. Some examples of these legacy systems are EHR systems, Epic, Allscripts, Cerner or even Mekesson Star for billing.

2. Blockchain & healthcare: scalability problems.

The scalability problems in the healthcare industry (or any industry that involves a lot of data and transactions such as 5G, IoT, Ai) can be addressed with the cloud-based and on/off premise solutions. Dragonchain provides all of this in a complete and custom package as a service. Therefore, this concern seen in healthcare and other industries is already solved by this technology. In the first research paper referenced above, the authors claim that there is only one model for blockchain integration. And an inefficient one at that: every node in the network must process all of the transactions on its own. This is currently the case with most private and public chains. Private, centralized, and single database solutions are slow and unsuited to handle high transaction throughput. Meanwhile, public blockchains are, to put it simply, too public for many blockchain healthcare use cases. And face the same scalability challenges.

Dragon Net, Dragonchain’s proprietary validation mechanism, introduces a third option. It is our solution to the scalability problems for industries that need more scalability such as healthcare. With Dragon Net, our ability to handle transactions exceeds the capabilities of AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. This allows Dragonchain users to scale up/down as needed, maximizing efficiency, and improving cost-benefit. To learn more about Dragon Net, read up on our blockchain platform.

3. Privacy, ownership and trusted exchange of patients records in healthcare

Dragonchain’s flexible architecture allows organizations and businesses to retain control of their private and sensitive data. They can do this by running their own private blockchain, while also permitting decentralized consensus through community-run nodes up to level 5. This last level is a public checkpoint to public blockchains like Bitcoin. All of this is possible without exposing any private data, since only the hash of a transaction, which does not itself contain any sensitive information, is being validated and governed. You can see how Dragon Net works by submitting any url or piece of text to Eternal.

Every level 1 is its own blockchain. And every level 1 block incorporates the hash of the prior block on that chain. That block is also sent to at least three level 2 blocks, which incorporate the hash of that level 1 block (making a vertical chain). And the level 3 contains a hash of the level 2. And so on, all the way through level 5 which contains a hash of an aggregate of many level 4 blocks. It's interesting that the L2, L3, L4, and L5 chains that are selected for a L1 block are not consistent across L1 blocks, so a mesh is created, traceable across many many nodes.

Because the chains are connected (L1 through L5) you also get progressively more decentralized and secure. Because the L1 blocks are chained together, you get the aggregate security of all L5 interchains, currently with BTC, ETH, ETC, and NEO. A lot more detail can be found in the architecture document.

With Dragon Factor, Dragonchain’s factor-based identity solution, you can protect your privacy and control the entities that have access to personal sensitive medical records. When Factors are created, a patient’s Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is not recorded on the blockchain. Instead, the hashes of the transactions are recorded on the chain in its place. Not only does Dragon Factor prevent hackers from obtaining PII, it allows users and businesses to leverage the power of public blockchains, while remaining GDPR-compliant. With the recent deployment of the Dragon Factor API, we are empowering individuals and businesses to take control of their data. We eliminate the need for OAuth, a protocol used by authorities like Google and Facebook or other middle men that increase risk drastically, as seen in cases like the Cambridge Analytica scandals. This ensures that your data stays out of the hands of centralized authorities that might sell or distribute it without your consent.

Some benefits of using Dragon Factor in conjunction with Dragonchain:

  • Built on a trusted blockchain
  • Ability to control your data
  • Trusted third party vendors reduce the risk of liabilities
  • Better than federated and self-sovereign identity

4. Blockchain is good for people and for business

Patient consent in healthcare today can be further improved. Patients are justifiably concerned that their private and sensitive electronic medical records will be used in a harmful way by for-profit entities. However, it is also important that blockchain patient records are accessible during the most critical moments, which is a complicated process and difficult to balance.  Patient data is scattered across different entities, in a multi-level process of permission control, often leading to crucial health data records not being available in times of urgent need. Dragonchain is able to address this issue through its private/public hybrid blockchain based on 5 levels of trust. Sensitive business data, or in the case of healthcare, sensitive medical records, remain private on a Level 1 business node and can be kept within an organization. The capabilities these research papers reference as areas that need improvement are actually benefits Dragonchain can already provide. We can enable you to securely store information, protect your identity, and retain ownership of your data. Blockchain technology enables data sharing based on verification as a service and privacy by design.

For more information about implementing blockchain in your business, schedule a consultation with our Blockchain Business Development team.

5. Blockchain can change current business models in healthcare

Dragonchain’s blockchain as a service solutions not only address the common issues voiced by healthcare practitioners, they also are able to provide additional benefits like tokenization and incentives for participation. These can be applied to hospitals, device manufacturers, care personnel and even patients themselves.This is but one of the many ways blockchain can supplement your organization and operations, all without middlemen or having to lose ownership of data.

Dragonchain's unique distributed ledger technology, combined with our identity products and the blockchain applications built by our community of users, can bring about digital transformation in the healthcare space. Blockchain based solutions are not only good for people, it is also good for business, and Dragonchain has the resources and experience needed to help healthcare professionals tap in to this potential.

6. Stable predictable costs and costs reduction

On top of all of this, Dragonchain is able to provide consistent and predictable operation costs for users of the platform. Organisations can explore the potential of blockchain without having to worry about the volatility of cryptocurrencies or having to manage private keys and wallets. We offer stable monthly pricing and predictable costs based on a projected amount of monthly transactions. Some examples of where blockchain can drastically lower costs or friction for healthcare can be found in the use case examples further below.

Will blockchain transform healthcare?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States of America “will soon spend close to 20% of its GDP” on healthcare and many other countries are positioned to do the same. There is no doubt that innovations can assist in reducing these operation costs, while also keeping privacy in mind. Just months ago Forbes published an article on how technology will transform the industry, speaking with various experts following this emerging technology.

''Halamka remains cautious however. He notes that technical challenges pose obstacles to the adoption of blockchain initiatives in healthcare. 'It's slow, it’s awkward to use, the number of steps required to get and put data to blockchain are numerous and complex.' There is hope though.'There are emerging “blockchain-as-a-service” products that attempt to solve these problems, but they are very early' observes Halamka.''

There has never been a better time to start experimenting and seeing what works best in your environment. Even small pilots with limited patients or stakeholders can provide insights in new ways to transform industries. Think about micropayments for incentivizing a healthy lifestyle. Think blockchain patients consent management for the access and exchange of medical data. Blockchain is positioned to play a major role in the transformation of current health systems, in conjunction with other major technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT. To read further on blockchain's role in healthcare and other industries, be sure to explore our use cases.

The future of healthcare with 5G, AI, VR, AR and blockchain.

Take for example 5G, which will be implemented on a large scale globally, where possible. The arrival of 5G networks ensure higher bandwidth and lower latency. This, in turn, contributes to better diagnostics and faster triage that will save lives. Healthcare futurists will have a responsibility to look at how our blockchain solutions can help ensure data is handled appropriately where needed. With 5G, the shortage of healthcare resources can be overcome. Two thirds of the global population, about 5 billion people, don’t really have access to safe or affordable surgery or other healthcare procedures. With new technologies that are now available, we can shorten the gap between what we can offer and what we need to offer.

5G-connected wearables will facilitate the process of streaming real-time data. They can monitor a variety of things related to someone’s health, like their heart rate or blood pressure. The use of virtual reality and augmented reality are also bringing about improvements to healthcare, providing life-like experiences that will prove invaluable when teaching medical procedures. Healthcare is all about communication, connecting people and administering patient care in a timely manner, so the removal, so the removal of latency will allow to have real-time conversations to occur across wider distances, encompassing larger parts of the population

A study shows 80% of people with healthcare questions don’t need physical contact with a provider to receive answers or treatment. However, sensitive data may still need to be shared and must be done so in a trusted manner. Blockchain technology can assure secure exchange of all of this data between connected blockchains at a global scale.

‘’The New T-Mobile’s 5G network will support the creation of thousands of new jobs across America, deliver lower prices and better value for wireless and in-home broadband customers and will transform lives in ways we can’t even imagine yet’’, as stated by T-mobile. They aim to bring 5G to all Americans as soon as possible. Rather than ‘somewhere in the next decade or so’. Now is the best time to start understanding and implementing blockchain and Dragon Factor, not only for the benefits in efficiency and cost, but also for the improvements they will bring to the lives of patients.

Start small or big with our free blockchain project planning guide today and experience how you can use Dragonchain to bring changes and innovation to your industry.

Blockchain use cases for healthcare

All of the following use cases and applications for healthcare and blockchain can be built on top of Dragonchain. Setting up your own private/public hybrid blockchain on our platform can be done in minutes. Depending on the application you want to build and the size of your developer team, it will take about 4-6 weeks to have a working solution, which can be expanded to suit your needs. The use cases are out there, now they just need to be built.

  • Financial audits for the drug supply chain and the detection of counterfeit drugs.
  • Claims adjudication and billing management. Automatic approval or denial of claims with smart contracts without the need for manual intervention. There is a lot more automation possible in this field.
  • Clinical trials and population health research for collecting healthcare data from the biggest range of participants.
  • Exchange of digital healthcare data including genomics data.
  • Secure lifetime medical data and information record sharing across providers.
  • Cybersecurity. Protection of ransomware. The Internet of Medical Things as mentioned In an article from the Healthcare Innovation Group
  • Universal identities, patient health records and app services.
  • Real-time electronic health record (EHR) updates with our on-premise capabilities.
  • Seamless interoperability with legacy systems.
  • Trust, transparency, and traceability even in complex and multi-tiered situations that involve many parties.
  • Price transparency thanks to smart contracts and removing unnecessary middlemen in self-funded employer health plans.
  • Exchange of patient medical verifications, such as x-rays, to lower expenses and minimize exposure to radiation.
  • Prevent centralized ownership of a master patient index.
  • Interoperability thanks to Interchain®, integration with existing legacy systems. Highly secure and scalable blockchain applications in coding languages that are known by your existing IT developers or third party (open source) systems in use.
  • Documentation of employees doing tasks/procedures, administering medications, imaging, sterilization of OR equipment, admitting patients for treatment, etc.
  • RFID technology to identify patients that can’t communicate or access a physical ID. This is already being used in some facilities for imaging and sterilizing/transportation of surgical equipment.

Use case examples from the research paper ‘’Blockchain For Health Data and Its Potential Use in Health IT and Health Care Related Research’’ include:

  • Expanding the acquisition of health data to include data from populations of people who are currently underserved by the medical community
  • Gathering data from wearable sensors and mobile applications
  • Combining health data from mobile applications and wearable sensors with data from traditional EMR’s and genomics
  • Daily, personalized health data that will allow patients to engage more with their own healthcare and improve patient compliance
  • Providing physicians with a greater amount of data (i.e., daily blood pressurevalues or blood sugar levels, as opposed to only when a patient comes in for an appointment), which would improve individualized care with specialized treatment plans
  • Continuous availability and access to real-time data. Real-time access to data would improve clinical care coordination and improve clinical care in emergency medical situations
  • Rapid detection, isolation and responses for environmental conditions that impact public health, such as epidemics
  • Continuous, 24 hour monitoring of high-risk patients and the implementation of “smart” applications that would notify caregivers and healthcare providers if a patient reached a critical threshold for action. Care teams could reach out to the patient and coordinate treatment options for early intervention.

Some other use cases for (Hybrid) Blockchain, Distributed Ledger Tech & AI in healthcare that Jonathan Bishop shared on Linkedin:

  • Prescription Tracking
  • Opioid & Drug Abuse Management
  • Electronic Rx Pads
  • Govt Regulatory Compliance & Reporting
  • Pharmaceutical Supply Chain
  • Dr Credentialing
  • EHR & Patient Data Sharing
  • Medical data Device & Recall Tracking
  • Clinical Trials Management
  • Payer/Provider Contract Management
  • Universal Patient Identities (Single Source Health Record)
  • Provider Information
  • Claims Management
  • Linking Disparate IoMT Systems
  • IoMT Cyber Security & Authentication
  • FHIR Interface Integration
  • Population Health Management
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Lab Specimen Tracking
  • Healthcare Org Data Mining
  • Data Lakes & Data Monetization
  • Micropayments
  • Patient consent Management
  • Overall Medical Record Integrity
  • Health insurance efficiencies

What use cases and applications for blockchain are you exploring in healthcare? Contact us and let’s transform the industry together.