Article Synopsis :
With the use cases for using blockchain for electronic billing, prescriptions, health data and a single countrywide medical record for each citizen being almost totally realised in Estonia, it is only a matter of time before it is more widely adopted.
This paper looks at the potential for blockchain across the Indian healthcare ecosystem. It also covers the potential to make health data management and information exchange secure, transparent and trustworthy.
In the meantime, the healthcare ecosystem must plan and design its current processes and systems in order to adopt the technology seamlessly.
What needs to change in the provider ecosystem
Control over patient data must be decentralised via blockchain to increase patients’ data ownership. A common standard needs to be agreed for capturing, storing and sharing health data in a secure manner, ensuring patient data privacy for seamless health information exchange.
All stakeholders in the ecosystem must be connected and the health technology vendor ecosystem be supported by government and regulatory projects to establish the ideal blockchain enabled health information exchange solution.
In turn, the vendor ecosystem will assist in the design and implementation of systems and solutions enabled with blockchain in order to provide interlinked, secure and trusted connectivity between the payer and the provider.
Role of the government and healthcare regulator
The regulator must build confidence in the healthcare ecosystem by preparing it for compliance with health data regulation standards and mandates. Stakeholders must be monitored for compliance and the body given this task needs powers and control. It should also have a role in the implementation of the ecosystem to ensure accuracy and security.
The regulator, backed by the government, will be able to ensure monitoring and audit of the agreed standards of health information exchange while ensuring careful monitoring of and control over health technology vendors.
The application of blockchain within Indian healthcare information exchange offers possibilities under a federated permissioned design, says the paper. This would ensure all stakeholders participated while keeping the focus on the needs of the individual patient.
If standards can be agreed upon, such a model could connect patients to the private and public healthcare systems across the nation.
Not all plain sailing
Obstacles remain, however. Healthcare processes are complex and Indian healthcare has never been swift to adopt technology, leaving a disjointed legacy that will prevent the implementation of seamless health information exchange.
The scale is huge and national initiatives require a technology solution that encourages all stakeholders to participate actively. Goals for health information management have been identified by the government with targets for a major push for 2025.
Blockchain offers the potential to transform some of the key areas of healthcare by increasing interoperability and process optimisation and maintaining the overall security and privacy of data by increasing trust among stakeholders.
This process has begun in other parts of the world. Adoption of blockchain technology by the Indian healthcare industry will happen, but healthcare organisations must prepare in order to be ready to take advantage of these blockchain-based partnerships and programmes.
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Digital Insurer's CommentsBlockchain offers significant opportunities for the healthcare industry to be radically transformed.
India faces some considerable obstacles, but they are not insoluble. Nor are they any worse than the problems faced by healthcare in many developed nations.
This paper highlights the opportunities for Indian healthcare while urging the key stakeholders – in particular, the government, regulators and technology vendors – to work in partnership towards a successful implementation.
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