Healthcare data privacy and security: Can blockchain come to the rescue?

The pandemic has directed the focus of the healthcare sector toward online modes of functioning in addition to the traditional physical methods. As a result, vast amounts of patient data are being uploaded on-site, over the cloud, third-party systems and other systems. Such extensive digitised data exchange has naturally brought forth concerns about the privacy and security of healthcare data.

Healthcare data privacy refers to effective ways of data management and protection from cybersecurity threats. Data privacy in the healthcare industry is governed by a set of rules and regulations, which ensure that only authorised individuals can access patient data and medical records.

Traditional healthcare systems have several lacunae including fragmented medical records, lack of data integrity, supply chain inefficiencies, interoperability issues, security breaches of patient data and others. Other than errors such as fraud, data falsification and trial misconduct prevent medical studies from producing the desired results. Due to these reasons, the healthcare industry has been grappling with data privacy and security concerns. Enter blockchain technology for healthcare!

What is blockchain technology?

Blockchain technology uses cryptography to create a ‘digital ledger’ or decentralised database of transactions. It records all types of digital assets and makes them transparent and unchangeable. Anyone in the network can view these transactions. The record of transactions cannot be altered without the consensus of all in the network. Blockchain technology facilitates secure transactions between stakeholders without involving a third-party intermediary, thereby reducing risks and frauds.

Blockchain technology for healthcare

There is a wide scope for blockchain technology in healthcare. It can be deployed for multiple functions including supply chain management and securing patient data. The most popular application of blockchain technology is in managing data privacy and security in healthcare.

  • Data privacy and security
  • Data privacy in the healthcare industry has emerged as a huge area of concern in recent times. This is because the integration of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud, smart devices, and others, into healthcare systems has made healthcare data vulnerable to external and internal attacks. Data shows that as of 17th November 2023, over 100 million medical records have been breached. 

    The use of blockchain technology provides an extra layer of security to patient data. The technology provides an incorruptible, decentralised and transparent log of patient data. While the data is transparent, it conceals the identity of an individual with complex and secure codes ensuring healthcare data privacy. Hence, the decentralised data can be accessed and shared by patients, healthcare providers and doctors in a safe and secure environment. Also, quick data transfers reduce the window of time during which the data is vulnerable.

    In addition, blockchain technology accurately determines dangerous mistakes in medical history while facilitating the safe storage and management of healthcare data and transactions. 

  • Safe clinical trials
  • Blockchain applications also include clinical trials that boost transparency and prevent manipulation of clinical data. It minimises the prevalence of counterfeit drugs or medications. 

  • Secure practice of telemedicine
  • Blockchain technology helps maintain data privacy in telemedicine by preventing unauthorised access to medical records and offers a secure environment for patient data to be shared between various stakeholders.

    It is because of these factors that the value of the blockchain technology market in healthcare is expected to surpass $215 billion by the end of 2036.

Business Process Management (BPM) services in healthcare

It would be safe to conclude that the healthcare industry needs to leverage the power of technology to make healthcare more accessible and convenient for patients. However, there is a need to ensure that the healthcare data is not compromised.

Business Process Management (BPM) services in healthcare provide an optimal solution. The healthcare sector is extensively integrating BPM systems to streamline processes. In a blockchain-based BPM system, automation technologies streamline various healthcare processes and blockchain offers a safe and secure environment for data storage and exchange.

Features of blockchain-based BPM

  1. Blockchain-based BPM works across healthcare organisations enhancing efficiency and transparency. 
  2. Since blockchain provides a decentralised data storage, there is no single point of failure thereby making the data more resilient.
  3. The use of blockchain technology in healthcare facilitates interoperability. 
  4. All transactions that are carried out by BPM solutions are verified with the help of the consensus method deployed by blockchain. 
  5. In healthcare, the blockchain technology acts as a communication layer for the BPM software. 
  6. Blockchain-based BPM does not require restructuring and can be easily integrated.
  7. Blockchain in BPM makes the healthcare organisation the sole owner of all the data generated, eliminating third-party providers.
  8. Lack of trust has been an area of concern in BPM systems. Blockchain resolves trust issues associated with BPM by providing a decentralised peer-to-peer network wherein each peer keeps a copy of the ledger.

How can Infosys BPM help?

Infosys BPM Healthcare Services provides blockchain-based BPM services in healthcare. We offer flexible operating models that facilitate interoperability, seamless collaboration, and data privacy in the healthcare industry.

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