With the rate of technological advancements, it is very glaring that every sector needs a blockchain focused technologicalrevolution.The healthcare industry is plagued by inefficiencies, errors, bureaucracies, and high administrative costs, the focus should be on improving the quality of healthcare and ensuring that it takes a patient-centric approach rather than maximizing profit. There is no denying that technology’s impact on healthcare will be substantial in the future, and what’s the future? if not our present every day lives in miniature. We are in the era of emerging disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of things, robotics, blockchain and the rest — the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era where these technologies will control every one of our actions, the way we work and how we do business.
These technologies coming together will play a vital role in solving the issues faced currently in the health industry.
This article will focus on the issues faced by the health sector, how Blockchain and the 4IR technologies will help in solving these problems and make the sector more patient-centric and already existing use cases that are leveraging on these technologies to deliver optimal healthcare services.
The Current Healthcare system
To propose a solution, we have to first understand there’s a problem and see the problem needs urgent attention. The current healthcare system from research and personal experiences is faced with the following problems:
Inadequate Data Management: From my personal experience at a certain hospital I visited earlier this year, thousands of patients records are stored in paper files and heaped in a shelf manually, I asked the recording officer present what would happen to these records if there was a malicious damage on these records, she wasn’t definite with her answer as she couldn’t get something logical to mumble.
This is the situation with most hospitals today, patients’ records are stored in the most insecure way and exposed to loss or damage and in case of emergency, make it hard to retrieve patients’ medical history for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The above is for health systems that haven’t digitized their Data management processes yet, those that have scaled the traditional data recording process to record these patients data digitally, they are also prone to cyber attacks from hackers and Data breaches, stealing patients health insurance and Medical records.
In fact, in 2018, the healthcare industry reported more attacks more than any other industry accounting for 25% of the reported cyber hacks. Also, the healthcare system loses around $6 billion a year as a result of data theft. This points to the fact that the health sector is in dire need of a more secure way of storing and managing patients’ health records.
Lack of healthcare
Interoperability: Lack of healthcare interoperability is the biggest operational burden for healthcare organizations in 2019, according to a Stoltenberg Consulting survey of more than 300 health IT professionals who attended the 2019 HIMSS conference. Interoperability is the ability of various healthcare systems to connect and interact seamlessly with themselves sharing patients’ data without hinges. This feature among current healthcare systems involves lots of hinges and paperwork. The fundamental idea of interoperability is simple — doctors should be able to access all data regarding their patients irrespective of where in the healthcare system the data was generated or what software was used to create it.
But experts say the path to get there requires solving a complicated puzzle of linking competing businesses, state and regional information exchanges, technology-focused nonprofits, and federal regulations.
Counterfeit Medical products: According to the World Health Organization, approximately one in 10 medical products circulating in low- and middle-income countries are substandard or even fake. It is high time for healthcare institutes to fix it for good. Not only do they lose millions of dollars of revenue, but it also impacts the patients. Currently, the annual worth of counterfeit drugs is about $200 billion.
Lack of Transparency and Accountability: This is one of the major concerns in Nigeria especially in the health sector. An average Nigerian does not have health insurance nor access to good health facilities. The Nigerian health system is one of the sectors riddled with corrupt processes and malpractices. Public health care is a nightmare for the masses and the Private sector is neither well regulated nor being held accountable for ill practices.
These are the major problems facing the health sector in Nigeria. In the next article, we will explore the solutions to these problems and how blockchain and other 4IR tools are vital tools in tackling them.