Parts of the U.S. Affordable Care Act were intended to reform health care by improving storage, access, and security for medical records. Replacing paper records with digitized files and computer systems would help introduce efficiencies and improve access.
For instance, a National Institute of Health report published before ACA implementation spoke of ways that improving lab test records could help doctors, patients, and public health authorities. Naturally, patients and doctors could benefit from better security, access and communication. In addition, public health authorities and researchers would have access to records they needed to do their jobs.
Is it Time for a Blockchain for Medical Records?
Even a few years after ACA implementation, critics wonder if just digitizing records has helped enough. The blockchain for medical records may finally deliver upon the promises for healthcare innovation made by health reform. Consider the example of the 26 different medical records system used in Boston. People who need to access these records have to contend with various file formats, retrieval languages, and facilities, according to Technology Review. The CIO of one of the largest Boston medical centers, John Halamka, believes that a blockchain for healthcare offers a solution.
Halamka and MIT researchers have already begun working on a solution that they call MedRec. They constructed a private blockchain upon the Ethereum system to track patient prescriptions. MedRec rewards health care professionals and researchers who perform mining operations with access to aggregated data from patients who have given permission.
This proof-of-concept application still relies upon mining, a resource-intensive task. In the future, they may simply implement the blockchain in hospitals that already have computing power to verify transactions and eliminate the mining system.
Why the Next Health care Innovation May Come From Blockchain
What can a blockchain for health care accomplish that other technology hasn’t done? Existing medical records systems almost always rely upon central storage and administration.
Some advantages of a decentralized blockchain for medical records include:
- Clever hackers or even accidents only have to corrupt data in one place with centralized administration; however, the decentralized nature of the way that blockchain systems work makes this impossible. (Learn other ways blockchain can fight identity theft here.)
- Advanced cryptography keeps information secure from prying eyes, but users with the right private keys can access information they need rapidly.
- The decentralized nature of blockchain systems will make them easy to scale, so healthcare can enjoy almost unlimited growth.
Why Does Health care Need Better Solutions for Electronic Records?
Doctors, patients and public health care officials all need better medical records solutions. The right technology can help improve the way doctors treat patients and communicate with each other. They will also help researchers learn about effective medical treatments and spot outbreaks or trends quickly. Certainly, streamlines and accessible medical records applications can also help decrease costs, which was another objective of health reform.
At Renovatio PR, we’re excited about the prospect of developing blockchain for health care applications, so we can all enjoy a healthier, safer, and more efficient future. If you’ve got ideas to help promote healthcare innovation with better tech, we’re interested in talking to you.