Enabling a safe and secure integrated healthcare ecosystem

Prasanthi Sadhu

Prasanthi Sadhu

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Prasanthi Sadhu Editor, Asian Hospitals and Healthcare Management

A latest report from IBM indicates an average size of data breach is above 25,000 records and an average cost of breach is US$3.92 million. As a result, the US has emerged as the country with the most expensive healthcare. The global healthcare industry has been plagued by challenges such as counterfeiting drugs, fraud, data protection. While the industry continues to explore technological innovations aimed at enhancing care and patient safety, securing patient data remains a priority for healthcare organisations.

Blockchain has emerged as one of the technologies that healthcare organisations are slowly but surely heading towards to address data security concerns. Deloitte’s blockchain survey 2018 indicates blockchain to be among the top 5 priorities for 40 per cent of healthcare executives. A latest report by BIS research estimates that healthcare market spend across the globe can touch US$5.6 billion by 2025.

Blockchain, being a decentralised distributed ledger system, helps address challenges pertaining to interoperability of electric records, drug supply chain and traceability, patient data security, digital identity and regulatory compliance. When it comes to electronic health records, blockchain facilitates encrypted data storage that can be accessed only by authorised personnel validated by smart contract Blockchain can also be leveraged for claim and billing management, and other financial transactions. The shared data can be accessed only by authorized personnel validated by smart contract under which all participants can use information.Essentially, blockchain helps in building a universal data sharing platform that enables storing data in fragmented systems and allows for seamless and secure data transfer across networks.

While blockchain offers great promise for the industry, there arise certain challenges related to implementation. These include: deployment on a large scale, partnership with technology organisations, integration with existing infrastructure, accordance with laws, regulatory and compliance requirements. The industry’s investment in blockchain was US$53.9 million in 2018 and this is expected to surge exponentially to US$829 million. This could possibly result in saving billions of dollars otherwise lost due to rising IT and operational costs, data breaches etc. The healthcare of the future is becoming increasingly patient-centric, towards creating an ecosystem that offers experience not just care giving.

A study published by the Journal of American Medical Association indicates the US spending on healthcare was around 20 per cent of its GDP while other nations (part of the study) spent around 10-12 per cent for their healthcare programmes. Healthcare remains a key priority for governments with a lot of budgets and spending going into transforming the current landscape. Case in point is Australia, a country currently in the process of digital healthcare transformation. However, government regulations allow only practitioners to access their patients’ electronic medical records. The cover story of this issue delves into the current state of health system in Australia, the transformation approach and how blockchain can help drive this transformation to make the country’s healthcare system more effective and efficient.