Is blockchain the future of our medical system? 5 points to understand

D-health – The European Blockchain Observatory published in April 2022, a sixty-six-page report titled Blockchain applications in the healthcare sector. The authors of this document believe that blockchain could help the healthcare sector carry out the revolution Healthcare 4.0. The latter is based on fundamental principles, such as interoperability, digitization, decentralization, etc. This founding base would be compatible with the possibilities offered by the blockchain.

Blockchain and health: for better knowledge management

Blockchain would enable the healthcare sector to address concerns about the need for a system:

  • knowledge and data management that is flexible and digitized;
  • easy and user-friendly for patients to access their health data;
  • allowing the decompartmentalization of data stored in current tools.

Such a device would therefore respond to the growing complexity of health care. Indeed, these must be based on an adequate knowledge management tool.

Blockchain is also presented as a technology that could adequately organize, global information exchange in health care. In this way, it could solve certain problems that affect collective learning in the sector.

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Decentralize for better follow-up in health care

Is centralization then necessarily detrimental to the evolution of the health care sector? The problem lies above all in the difficulties relating to the establishment of an effective centralization. A blockchain would then be an alternative that would allow for example:

  • to monitor in a decentralized way the use of medical equipment by health establishments;
  • identify deficiencies or surpluses of devices in different geographical locations.

Blockchain is also known to be a tool to improve the tracking of medical products. The goal? In particular, fight against dangerous counterfeits for public health:

“Using blockchains as a ledger to record provenance, vaccines and other life-saving medicines could be monitored and tracked from their origin to their current location, reducing errors in drug placement or labeling and the risk of counterfeiting. »

On-chain and off-chain: a synergy to be found for the storage of health data

The blockchain would however present disadvantages in terms of data storage. The transparency and immutability of data recorded on a blockchain would thus be incompatible with the necessary confidentiality of patient data.

However, the authors of the report mention the possibility of combine blockchain with an off-chain solution to comply with legal requirements on the storage of this data:

“To comply with the GDPR, products can use blockchain on a layer above databases: it would therefore be possible to monitor transactions on the data exchange and access information, while all data personal health information is stored off-blockchain. »

The prospects for the use of blockchain in the healthcare sector are not recent. Some companies have embarked on this path of health decentralization since 2018. Concretely, have we made enough progress since then?

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