Blockchain for Healthcare
Bowhead Health, a health and wellness tech platform, provides insight about the future of Blockchain technology and its use in the healthcare system.
This blog was contributed by Bowhead Health, a health technology startup focused on removing the pain points and inefficiencies of preventive health management.
How Blockchain Can Disrupt Healthcare
Blockchain technology, the secure data sharing ledger associated with Bitcoin and the finance world, has disrupted many other consumer industries from diamonds to automobiles to healthcare. But what exactly is blockchain and how can it be utilized to create a stronger healthcare system?
What is Blockchain Technology?
A blockchain is a distributed ledger network where information can be added and never removed or edited without consensus. The value of a blockchain ledger is based on a cryptographic hash that links block records of newly added information with each information block before it (creating a chain). Thus, any changes in the contents of a previous block in the chain would invalidate the data in all subsequent blocks, creating a more secure data and information tracking solution.
The distributed ledger design of blockchain means data is not stored in any single location, making it publicly transparent and accountable to all participants within the network. This decentralized system prevents a single place of attack or failure, making the system stronger and secure.
How can blockchain technology impact healthcare?
Not having a trusted, secure data pathway has enormously challenged the current healthcare system, including increases in data privacy breaches, inefficient medical data management, and an overall inability for patients to control their health data transparency and agility.
Blockchain for Data Privacy and Security
In 2017, there were 477 healthcare data breaches reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These data breaches can be attributed to advance hackers who are able to get through healthcare database security systems and utilize patient information for identity theft, opening fake bank accounts, reselling stolen identities in the black market, and blackmail.
Blockchain could prevent this by providing a secure data centre for health records. Hackers could be identified and stopped before any information is taken because the blockchain network is transparent, holding all participants within the network accountable and their actions traceable through cryptographic hashes.
Blockchain for Healthcare Data Management
There is currently no system in place for tracking patient health records across various providers, specialties, and biometric health devices/wearables, leaving an individual’s health history in a fragmented puzzle to be solved by each provider they interact with.
If medical records and wellness data were put on a blockchain, providers and patients would have secure access to the digital picture of a patient as they move through the healthcare system and evolve in treatment and progress.
The blockchain would allow for more efficient medical data management and patient care by minimizing duplicate medical workups and testing, saving both the practitioner and patient time and money.
Blockchain for Healthcare Data Transparency and Agility
Personal information, including healthcare data, continues to build in value as we move forward into a tech-driven era. Currently, a patient does not know who sees their health data or how it is being used, creating mistrust within the system, reducing data agility and ultimately impacting healthcare decisions. Having health records on a blockchain would allow the patient to track where their data goes and what is done with it.
This would play a major role in how research studies are conducted. If patients grant access to their personal medical records to researchers, their data can be provided anonymously through the blockchain network. This efficient and transparent use of patient data would provide a larger sample size for the research institutes to use, increasing the statistical significance of data and catalyzing key medical findings and breakthroughs.
While blockchain technology is not an overnight solution for these problems, overtime the use of a blockchain can help create long-term, positive outcomes for population and precision health.
Health Tech Meets Blockchain
Many health-tech companies are leveraging blockchain technology and evolving their platforms to focus on some of the challenges faced by our healthcare system today. One such company is Bowhead Health.
Bowhead Health, a health and wellness tech platform, aims to address issues in health data interoperability and security in order to truly understand how to unlock the value and knowledge potential of longitudinal health data.
The blockchain-enabled Bowhead platform lives on a user-friendly iOS or Android mobile application and enables users to work towards their broader wellness goals by tracking health through inputs like self-reported surveys, healthy habit tracking and activity levels. Users can monitor progress, receive badges for actions and are granted access to a marketplace with health-related products and services.
The platform allows users to own and build their encrypted health, lifestyle and wellness database that can be easily accessed from anywhere in the world and securely shared with practitioners and researchers.
Most importantly, activity is incentivized: users earn Bowhead's native crypto token AHT (anonymous health tokens) for recording health data and for sharing it with healthcare stakeholders in exchange for AHT.
In the future, the company will integrate at-home genetic and hormone testing kits, nutritional supplements and health coaching services into the app marketplace. Additionally, Bowhead's blockchain health data management system will integrate with hospitals and doctors clinics in the future to make data sharing easier.
Bowhead believes a globally interoperable health data system will allow individuals to access better, faster and more personalized healthcare, thereby cutting costs and promoting happier and healthier outcomes. Bowhead Health’s use of blockchain is just one example of how this new technology can impact healthcare. The future of blockchain technology within the health and wellness space is full of potential and will be exciting to follow.
This blog was contributed by Bowhead Health, a health technology startup focused on removing the pain points and inefficiencies of preventive health management. You can learn more about Bowhead Health through their website, Facebook Page, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.