In the new era of the digital transformation of the health system, many professionals are beginning to become familiar with concepts that, although they are not totally new, are bringing great innovations to the health sector. One of the examples is the so-called blockchain technology.
Basically, it is a security standard to protect personal data, in this case, of patients. In reality, it is a technology with more than a decade in the cybersecurity market, which has proven highly effective in preventing hacks in other sectors.
To understand it, Pedro Manzano, IT director of Grupo SANED explains that you have to visualize a database organized by a chain of blocks, in which data (blocks) are related and encrypted to protect the security and privacy of movements. In this way, blockchain technology allows transactions to be carried out reliably and securely without the need to use intermediaries, which speeds up and reduces the costs of operations.
Given the increase in health data available in the digital environment, the increase in cyberattacks that seek to get hold of this data and the need to improve the cybersecurity of systems at the pace of the digital transformation of the sector, blockchain technology can become a great ally.
Benefits in the health sector
As published by the forbes magazine, the medical industry has suffered greatly from the inability to securely share and access sensitive patient data. Therefore, blockchain technology is expected to facilitate a personalized opening. All this while maintaining the best security standards for true interoperability. In turn, this will allow health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries.
In fact, according to this publication, BIS Research estimated that the application and integration of blockchain technology in health care could save more than 100 billion dollars a year in costs related to IT operations, support functions, staff and healthcare data breaches by 2025.
Different potential areas
As Pedro Manzano contributes, one of the key areas of this technology may lie in preventing the counterfeiting of medicines. According to the expert, pharmaceutical companies could create private blockchains involving all the elements that come into play in the drug distribution flow (producing agents, certifying entities, distribution and sale) by implementing them in all the nodes of the chain.
When a medicine was manufactured, it would generate a unique encoded code that would contain all the information from its origin, date of manufacture, components, etc. When one of the nodes (agents) accessed this medicine, another hash (unique code) would be generated that would be related to the previous one, thus guaranteeing complete traceability of the drug throughout the process since its creation.
This would mean for the pharmaceutical company to be able to verify all its products, having full control over them in all phases of the process, guaranteeing the registration of intellectual property and the certification of the origin of the medicines.
In addition, blockchain technology may allow patients transfer your data to certain research centers in a safe and anonymous way, which would be an improvement for clinical research. Another potential area is the use of health-related mobile applications, which would allow a data exchange between medical devices securely. Thus, this technology is expected to provide secure access to information from any device.
Examples of use of blockchain technology
Regarding how this technology is being applied in real clinical practice, it is worth noting that already in 2017, Pfizer and Genetech, Roche’s biotechnological arm, collaborated on the MediLedger project to create a system based on blockchain technology . The goal was to simplify compliance with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. The objective was to guarantee the interoperability of all systems and the reduction of costs and implementation times.
In recent years, moreover, companies such as Samsung have long opted for blockchain in services such as Samsung Blockchain Wallet, also useful for creating health passports.
Recently, the case of the Mayo Clinic stands out. In September 2022, it announced that it would use the Blockchain technology for a multicenter trial of arterial hypertension two year old lung This would include 10 research sites and more than 500 patients. Specifically, the goal was for the platform to provide secure and decentralized data capture, document management, study tracking, and electronic consent for the clinical trial.