The healthcare business, especially the telemedicine sector, must gradually explore blockchain solutions development for technological advancements and fulfilling needs for tailored care. The capabilities of blockchain have made it a hugely successful technology in a variety of businesses. The introduction of Blockchain brought with it solutions to several challenges that had been plaguing the healthcare business for a long time. The rising number of data breaches, privacy issues, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and other causes are propelling the healthcare blockchain sector forward.
The telemedicine industry benefits from decentralized Blockchain technology since it allows for secure information sharing, verified data, and PHI privacy (Protected Health Information). While telemedicine had been developing for some time, the covid-19 epidemic provided the needed impetus. To relieve social alienation, the epidemic necessitated an expansion in virtual healthcare and distant treatment.
Centralization was a major roadblock for telemedicine systems until Blockchain integration. Centralized systems, on the other hand, always run the risk of a single point of failure and are extremely vulnerable to external and internal data breaches, jeopardizing system reliability. Blockchain technology currently effectively addresses such critical challenges. To maintain the shared ledger of health records, it uses a distributed architecture. Every node connected to the Blockchain syncs and verifies all of the ledger copies.
Among the primary difficulties addressed by Blockchain include tracing pharmaceuticals and drugs across the supply chain, tracking infected patients’ locations, confirming physicians’ credentials, and securing health records.
Data can be shared in a safe encrypted way using blockchain technology. Patients and doctors will be able to securely exchange personal copies of the ledger; no single party will have complete control over the information.
Blockchain in telemedicine aims to improve healthcare services such as remote patient monitoring, distant treatment, auto payments, insurance services, and efficient data administration.
Doctors, patients, and healthcare workers can use the blockchain-enabled public healthcare system to manage highly confidential patient data in the most cost-effective, safe, and transparent way possible.
Blockchain’s accuracy and transparency are unrivaled. Insurance fraud and data breaches can decrease dramatically after the implementation of Blockchain in telemedicine. Furthermore, the decentralized structure of Blockchain, as well as the use of smart contracts, have aided in the network’s transparency.
Patients benefit from blockchain because it gives them complete control and authorization over their data’s accessibility. Patients retain ownership of their data and control over who has access to their personally identifiable encrypted data in this way.
A follow-up care service allows health professionals to closely monitor a patient’s health after treatment is completed. Before enrolling for a virtual conference, the patient may be required to submit reports of blood and urine tests with the practitioners in some situations. Through smart contracts, blockchain technology can automate the patient’s follow-up service. The smart contracts can send a notification to the patient, physician, and nursing staff to remind them of the impending follow-up appointment. The physician can access the patient’s transparent and immutable EHR to confirm the patient’s health status that was documented during the last follow-up meeting (virtual). Furthermore, the patient can utilize a smart contract to register and share the IPFS hash with the physician for accessing health data by using IPFS servers that can host medical test findings.
Due to limited incentives and rigorous privacy protection policies, a considerable majority of patients are frequently hesitant to provide their medical information to insurance companies. As a result, patients frequently choose incorrect insurance coverage, which might result in the denial of legitimate insurance claims. The patient’s right to reimbursement at the same rate as in physical healthcare systems is protected by virtual health-based legislation.
Insurance-related frauds (for example, submitting a false medical claim to an insurance company) take a long time to uncover the truth from the available data. By allowing insurance companies access to a patient’s medical record, blockchain technology can help them reduce insurance fraud (consent-based). Patients may be compensated for allowing insurance companies to use their medical information. In addition, several insurance firms reward premium payers with bitcoin tokens for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as keeping track of gym attendance. The smart devices attached to the patient can transact on the blockchain to create trust.
To share pharmaceutical prescriptions with the local pharmacy, the virtual online consultancy-based healthcare systems require the physician to transact on the blockchain. Blockchain technology can help to avoid potential prescription errors and record manipulation by using hash functions. Registered pharmacists can check, prepare, and transmit medications to patients using blockchain-stored pharmaceutical prescriptions. In exchange, the shipper can log the shipment’s present location on the blockchain, making it easier for pharmacists and patients to track and trace it.
A smart contract can automatically place a (periodic) prescription refill order for medicines to the pharmacy once it meets predefined criteria. The pharmacy can then authenticate and validate the prescription to refill it. Then, it will mail the prescription to the patient after a successful refill. And finally, the smart contract will update the patient’s records.
The Internet of Things (IoT) can help the telehealth sector monitor a patient’s health remotely using accurate biomedical sensors. The biomedical sensors can continually monitor and store health data on a high-performance edge server. It aids in the analysis of a patient’s health state. Health information can be related to vital signs like blood pressure and body temperature. However, medical errors might occur as a result of erroneous data recorded by a faulty instrument.
To tackle this issue, blockchain smart contracts can register and validate access permissions of biomedical sensors to record EHRs. Smart contracts can provide timely signals to doctors and health centers in the event of an emergency. IoT-assisted blockchain systems can proactively trigger a medicine refill notification for patients receiving in-home care services. A system that uses blockchain-based smart contracts can track the health of a remote patient. It ensures that only authorized users who have signed the patient consent form have access to the patient’s EHR.
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