Is blockchain the solution for failing global healthcare?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Pradeep Goel, CEO , Solve.Care

  • Global healthcare systems are under extreme stress.
  • Blockchain technology could create an efficient, transparent, safe and effective way of communicating data across global healthcare.
  • Blockchain technology can also support healthcare development, save money and support further investment into essential resources.

The global healthcare system has been deteriorating for what feels like decades. With bed shortages, long waiting lists, increasing costs and global pandemics, the state of the global healthcare system has never been more challenging for healthcare providers, practitioners or patients.

According to Deloitte’s 2022 Global Health Care Outlook, the industry is at breaking point. The COVID-19 pandemic has exhausted healthcare workers, overwhelmed institutions, disproportionately affected and further marginalised large sections of the population and decreased access and demand for non-COVID-19-related medical care.


How is the World Economic Forum enabling an inclusive global health ecosystem?

How do we ensure every person has equal access to the highest standards of health and healthcare?

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare leverages a data-enabled delivery system and virtual care, from precision prevention to personalized care delivery. It works to preserve health, enable access to care, accelerate sustainability of healthcare systems, as well as prepare and respond to epidemics.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.

In short, the pandemic has exacerbated an already broken healthcare industry, hampered by decades of inefficiency, funding cuts, failed reformation and over-centralisation. But this can be fixed.

To ensure that the global healthcare system does not completely fail, drastic measures must be taken. The introduction of blockchain technology will allow for a decentralised and distributed environment that ultimately serves and protects all – as any good healthcare system should.

Improving communication and efficiency

Blockchain technology is massively under-utilised in global healthcare. It can ensure an efficient, transparent, safe, and effective way of communicating data and information for all parties in the healthcare industry. Through tokenisation and the use of smart contracts, it offers the opportunity to reduce or remove the process of pre-authorisation in the healthcare sector.

Blockchain-based solutions for health documentation offer secure encryption techniques that safeguard the integrity of individuals’ information when communicating with different parties. Through tokenisation, smart contracts and the encryption techniques that are involved in blockchain network transactions, the process of pre-authorisation will be reduced massively, enabling patients to receive the necessary and informed care more efficiently. This is a result of the healthcare provider being able to access the relevant information quickly, when they would have previously been depending on the patient or on files physically mailed or emailed from disparate sources, such as local physicians, labs, etc.

Not only can tokenisation facilitate more efficient interaction and communication between healthcare providers and insurance companies, it can also support and improve the communication between the patient and healthcare provider.

Putting the patient first

Bringing a decentralised platform into the global healthcare system will bring different benefits to the patient. For one, it will allow for medical records to be owned by the patient, rather than the healthcare provider. Decentralisation will also allow for healthcare to become more accessible to all, as it will remove the shackles and allow for patients to provide their medical records to any practitioner, anywhere in the world.

The tokenisation of personal information means patients will be able to provide and receive information quickly and efficiently as they interact with different global healthcare professionals and providers along their healthcare journey. Essential information, such as medical history, insurance details and personal information, will be provided through a platform to ensure information is accessed quickly and stored for every use.

By providing patients with access to their medical records, they can ensure that the information held on them is accurate and correct. A study carried out to investigate the accuracy of medical records found that healthcare providers would input only 18% of the text in progress notes manually – leaving 46% copied and 36% imported. This leaves a large window for error and outdated data.

Supporting outpatient services

Outside the hospital setting, people find themselves under the care of multiple providers: a primary care institution, their GP; specialist practitioners, such as dentists and physiotherapists; and everyone else across the medical profession spectrum. With so much to track and manage, a system that ensures that all parties are up-to-date with appointments, prescriptions, and medication can be challenging, particularly when providers are part of different global healthcare networks.

With blockchain-based medical records, prescription data can be updated in real-time by any provider, streamlining the information flow and reducing the risk of errors and contraindications between drugs.

Patients can even add information about their over-the-counter medication or homoeopathic remedies, ensuring that care providers and pharmacies have all the information they need to give the right treatment and advice. From a user perspective, this means there is a central, single-access repository of information that is safely stored and housed across a decentralised blockchain.

The future of global healthcare

Blockchain technology can help support the development of the global healthcare industry, save money and encourage further investment into essential resources. With so much at stake, it’s impossible to think that the inefficient, overly bureaucratic and failing healthcare industry that we are experiencing today can continue. For patients, practitioners and executives, it’s time to accept the technology and systems-based advancements at our disposal.


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