Blockchain and Healthcare

Santiago Barroso

Santiago Barroso

As we have seen in the article on the Blockchain and the sports industry, this technology, characterized by its composition in non-centralized distributive networks, absence of a central server and large storage capacities, immutability and chronological order, is increasingly present in various sectors, among which we can highlight the health sector. For all intents and purposes, the health sector is undoubtedly one of the areas that has benefited most from the incorporation of new technologies in the exercise of its functions.

A first application of blockchain technology is mainly related to healthcare administration and user data. This being so, we could determine that one of the main applications of the technology focuses on the transfer of digital data. In this way, clinical data, as well as their history, can be transferred securely, immutably and directly over the network thanks to its immutability and its enhanced security as the information is fully encrypted. In relation to this, we must not forget that the use of new technologies means that certain information is stored in their devices and in the cloud, which is why we can also have quick access to this information through our devices and under compliance with the characteristics of blockchain technology. Therefore, it can be deduced that we can use the blockchain as an information exchange platform through which medical devices can transmit data on the health of patients and carry out an exhaustive and comparative record of the same for the purpose of subsequent interpretations and / or medical recommendations (pacemakers, electronic bracelets, inserts, censors, etc.).

Another case of application is in the monitoring of medicines or medical devices, so that the synchronization of technology and, above all, the security of this means that the various hospital centers can know at all times and with certainty about the availability of medicines, knowing the shortage or availability of medicines and, in case of absence, the time it will take to replenish the medicines or, failing that, the time that will elapse until the new delivery of the same. The latter, in addition to hospital centers, extends to pharmacies or specialized centers with the capacity to supply medicines for sale. In view of the above, what is the main advantage? From the simple reading we can deduce that the application of blockchain technology would be, without a doubt, the use of this to comply with the supply chain of medicines, the life cycle of the ingredients that compose it and the dates of conservation and consumption of the same.

A more recent application of the use of blockchain technology in the healthcare sector would be the one that arose as a result of COVID-19. To this effect, and as we all know, after the rounds of vaccinations it became necessary the existence of a health passport, being this a necessary document for mobility between countries and even for entry into certain centers or public places such as, for example, restaurants. Being so, through our health passport, commonly known as covid passport, we find personal information (name and surname, type of certificate, vaccination date, type of vaccination, certificate identification, year of birth, etc) that must be protected, which is why technology companies have focused on blockchain technology for the creation or transfer of personal clinical information.

In relation to this, the application of new technologies and blockchain allow the tracking, monitoring and treatment of certain population groups affected by a particular disease as well as the determination of those areas most prone to the spread of the disease or most affected as a result of the spread of pollutants. This aspect is closely related to another factor that we will see below.

Another of the most relevant applications in the link between blockchain technology and the healthcare sector can be found in the area of research. To this end, the characteristics of this technology allow researchers in general to share and record the clinical results of their studies for statistical and comparative purposes while having access to anonymized and encrypted data, so that while protecting the identity of the users who own these data, the research staff has access to them, using these references for their studies and their conclusions. In addition, it will allow the automatic replication and distribution of clinical data with greater traceability and control.

Similarly, and in line with the application and influence of new technologies in the sector, since COVID-19 the use of these technologies has become widespread for first assistances, giving rise to new terms such as telemedicine or Tech Medicine, used to refer to the provision of remote medical services in Primary Care and the implications of these in a globalized environment. This fact means that, nowadays, we can keep a record of our analysis and clinical results through our devices and digital certificate.

Regarding the practical applications of this technology we can refer to Modum, a company that uses blockchain to store sensor data securely through a hardware sensor in charge of watching over medicines in terms of traceability, conditions and authenticity. In the same vein we come across the MediLedger project, established by leading healthcare companies (Pfizer, McKesson, Bayer, CardinalHealth, etc) through Chronicled for tracking medications and exchanging information about them.

In addition to all these implications and the use of blockchain technology in the field, we must not forget the influence of Artificial Intelligence in this sector. In this line, a clear exemplification of this would be the incorporation of intelligent systems capable of analyzing and interpreting clinical results and making an assessment or approximation of them. Another example of this would be the Da Vinci surgical robot, installed in the HM Sanchinarro University Hospital, characterized by being minimally invasive, producing less postoperative pain, reducing the aesthetic impact and reducing recovery times.

Undoubtedly, the influence of technology in the health field is a reality increasingly advantageous, being incorporated as a means to facilitate the health work in all areas of this. If you have any doubt, contact us to solve it.

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