Blockchain is a popular term amongst cryptocurrency experts and enthusiasts. It is the underlying technology on which cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin run but its application transcends coins and charts. Since it went mainstream in the last decade, Blockchain has found myriads of applications in the most unlikely sectors, including healthcare.
Before we delve into the pros of blockchain to healthcare; let’s backtrack a bit to understand what blockchain is all about.
First off, a blockchain is a type of database. Only this time, there are no central hosting servers. It is completely decentralized and functions on a transparent network of servers scattered all over the globe.
In the case of Bitcoin, blockchain stores data in blocks that are then chained together. Decentralization is essential in Bitcoin so that no single person or group of people wield total or substantial control; control is retained individually. This ensures transparency and privacy.
The information contained in a block is dependent and linked to the information contained in a previous block and over time, forms a chain of transactions. Hence the name, Blockchain.
Blockchain was founded by a person (or as some believe, a group of people) named Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi has become synonymous with the supposed person or persons who developed Bitcoin, the world’s first digital currency.
Over the years, the technology has been adopted by banks and other financial institutions. But more recently, the health sector is taking that route too.
Interestingly, health and life insurance have keyed into blockchain technology in a bid to; accurately maintain clients’ records, run transactions and interact with stakeholders.
This will free ease the administrative burden on health facilities and allow them to focus on big picture issues. The question is, “can we fully predict the challenges that may crop up in the future?” Certainly not. However, certain measures must be in place to avoid future drama.
Five Ways Blockchain is Changing Health Insurance
The insurance industry has existed for well over a century. Its primary purpose is to help natural and corporate persons pay for damages ranging from properties to health.
Even though insurance has evolved over the decades, one factor that hasn’t changed is its priority; customer service. Customers are aware of the trends in technology and they expect to see improvements in the ways they are served.
While in the past purchasing new policies required humongous paperwork that system is prone to high margins of error. Information can get lost, certain policies can be misinterpreted by both insurer and client, and sometimes the settlement time overshoots.
As customers grow more impatient with 20-century hitches, it is only businesswise for insurance companies to engage blockchain technology in their operations. So, here are some benefits blockchain has brought so far.
- Detecting Fraud
When false information is submitted to a life or health insurer, the blockchain smart contract can confirm the information. According to studies by Deloitte’s Center for Health Solution and Center for Financial Services, life insurers can now compare elements of an applicant’s record—whether the person has been treated for cancer or whether the person is a smoker to public employment records—to verify the information provided.
Once confirmed, the claim would be paid. If not, the claim would either go unpaid or eventually lead to more investigation. Blockchain’s ability to easily pull out diverse data sources at any given point in the transaction has enhanced insurers’ ability to effortlessly detect fraud.
- Client-Friendly Life/Health Insurance Service
Blockchain provides easy-to-access medical information especially when a client is buying life insurance individually. Before blockchain, medical clients describe this process as stressful and intimidating. However, a blockchain-aided interoperable data repository can potentially become a yardstick for insurers to enhance clients’ experience and build seamless rapport with them.
In the long run, this stressless process will convert more prospects to clients thereby increasing the percentage of individuals with life insurance. More so, with a client’s history properly recorded and readily available, insurers can gain easy access to a patient’s report when needed.
- Drug Traceability and Safety
How safe are the drugs you consume?” Have you ever asked? This question is a major debate in the medical supply chain. With blockchain, there is a new game plan regarding the manufacturing and distribution of drugs.
Because blockchain is decentralized, there is a 100% guarantee and authenticity. Once a ledger is created for a certain drug, blockchain marks its point of origin (Laboratory). Having done that, the ledger continuously monitors the drug and every information on it until it reaches the consumer. It further aids law enforcement agencies to review activities like drug trafficking; protecting patients from consuming fake drugs.
- Breakthroughs in Genomics
Genomics can now improve human health, with the adequate scientific and financial support of course. The question one might ask is “What role does blockchain play in this?”
Blockchain can safely store up billions of genetic data points. Furthermore, interested individuals can sell their genetic information to create a database. To this effect, scientists will gain unlimited access to data in a short time. What’s more? Groups of people can now share information on the blockchain.
- Security of Patient Data
Corporate organisations are in a constant race with cybersecurity. The medical field is no exception. The US Department of Health and Human Services published a summary of healthcare data breaches on its website spanning October 2019 to December 2020.
This left a huge dent in the medical space. Following that report, health institutions were compelled to institute safety measures. Most hospitals and health insurance companies now encrypt and store their data using blockchain. Information on such platforms can only be accessed by patients and medical experts in safety, without threats from hackers.
Blockchain technology provides insurance companies with better tools and opportunities to collaborate with their clients and prospects. Going forward, we can only watch and study the wide range of applications and operability blockchain will have in health insurance. This would require steady adaptability and openness to change.