By Margret Oyugi
Blockchain technology is the new kid on the block that would produce massive breakthroughs in the healthcare industry as it can bring specific changes in the health care management of the patient. In essence, blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger, a list of records that is designed to be immutable.
The transactions once approved and stored cannot be deleted. The blockchain system is decentralized, meaning it stores information in a network of linked computers called nodes. Each node has the same database which is continually reconciled as every other node in the system. A blockchain is made up of blocks, each linked and reliant on the other blocks.
Every block contains a record of all, or some, of the most recent transactions and a reference to the block that immediately came before it. As more and more blocks are added to the chain, the older blocks become even harder to tamper with.
Changing one block in the chain will negate all the other subsequent blocks since it will change the reference to the previous block. Since each node has its own version of the blockchain, to alter the blockchain requires collusion of at least 51 per cent of the nodes in the system. There is only one true version for everyone. This ensures that the transaction records in the ledger cannot be altered retroactively and detecting unauthorized changes is immediate.
Thus, the participants can audit and verify the transactions for themselves quickly and have trust in the integrity of information therein. Due to the nature of blockchain technology, many industries, including healthcare, have developed a deep interest in it. Companies want a secure and trustworthy system of handling information. However, there are several challenges that hinder this: The healthcare industry is inundated with data from all the stakeholders like the patients, insurers, hospitals and pharmacists.
Unfortunately, health data is currently held in legacy systems that are slow and burdensome, making it difficult to instantaneously share vital information. This leaves the health landscape fragmented and each stakeholder incentivized to hold on to individual records. The relationship between patients and caregivers is changing rapidly.