- August 30, 2018
- Posted by: Michael Kern
- Category: Blockchain, Technology
Healthcare is a thriving industry driven by innovation.
Scientific breakthroughs have added decades onto our lifespans, found cures to some of the world’s most terrifying illnesses, and even grow body parts in laboratories.
One of the most important tools behind these incredible discoveries, however, is data.
Scientists have spent years collecting, storing, and finding new applications for data. From building a database of DNA sequences to creating a collection of symptoms to be used to identify illnesses, data is one of the most important tools a healthcare professional has in their arsenal.
And now, a new technology is about to flip the entire industry on its head.
Imagine that you could view your entire medical history, every medicine you’ve ever taken, every vital sign that has ever been recorded, in complete anonymity. Only you could determine who accesses it, and only you could add information to it.
This has been one of the healthcare industry’s biggest challenges. But now, just as blockchain technology has disrupted just about every other industry imaginable, so to will it transform healthcare.
What is blockchain technology?
Blockchain technology, in its simplest form, is a digital ledger of information, but instead of the data being stored on one single computer, it is stored on a gigantic network of computers. Because there is no central database, all information stored on a blockchain is private and immutable.
This simple idea has opened a world of potential uses for the technology.
Blockchain’s most basic function is to act as a database of transactions. Bitcoin is the most notable revelation in this regard, promising to disrupt finance as we know it.
But that was only the beginning.
Vitalik Buterin and the team at the Ethereum Foundation took this idea to the next level, allowing decentralized applications to be built on top of the blockchain, opening the door to an entirely new world of possibilities.
Ian Khan, author and futurist notes: “As revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.”
Blockchain technology in healthcare
So how does this all fit into the healthcare industry?
When you last went to the doctor, you may have noticed the file he carried into the room. This is your medical record, and the doctor has one for every patient he sees. In most cases, all of this information is stored on paper, in a huge room with thousands of other files just like it. And there are millions of doctors around the world doing the exact same thing.
Despite the incredible amount of innovative tech within the field, this is something that has persisted over time.
Scientists spent billions of dollars and a full decade in order to complete the world’s first full genome sequence, but still, around the world, millions, if not billions of medical records are stored in paper files. .
Even those who have taken the leap and finally put these files on a computer have barely even scraped the true potential of digital databases.
This is one of the most important applications of blockchain technology in the healthcare industry – storing, accessing, and using data when its needed while maintaining the integrity and privacy of the data.
Using blockchain technology, an individual can keep their entire medical record intact, allowing chosen healthcare professionals to access this data and treat issues no matter where the individual has been or who has treated them in the past.
Not only can this technology store a patient’s entire medical history, it can allow patients to ‘donate’ their information in complete anonymity to researchers, allowing scientists to access a potentially infinite amount of data in order to create new treatments, or even cures, for some of humanity’s most complex illnesses.
Some of the industry’s most forward-thinking minds are even looking to take this idea to the next level.
While the true potential of blockchain technology in the healthcare industry is still being realized, some companies are pushing the envelope further, hoping to change the world in the process.
In a world full of data, the most important but often overlooked of that data often involves your health. It has the possibility to change not only your life, but the lives of millions worldwide.
As privacy and integrity of data finally become a priority, blockchain technology is sure to gain speed within the space as more and more industry professionals begin to adopt and adapt to this breakthrough.
This is truly the beginning of a new revolution in medicine.