Data-rich operations like those that go on daily in the health industry have been turning to blockchain technology. After all, secure information exchange and recordkeeping are used in many sectors of the health field. Now, there’s more pressure than ever to improve virtual care processes by harnessing blockchain capabilities. Here, we assess the current state of blockchain use in virtual care and telehealth encounters, and what more needs to be done.
Consolidate Health Data Management
If healthcare services are moving online and increasingly require collaborative care efforts from providers, there needs to be a system to consolidate health data. In the non-virtual world, patients engage in more types of care with more providers than ever. The way authorized entities, like the provider, insurance companies, clinicians, and patient, access and record health data needs to be addressed. Blockchain potentially enables a health data management system to make the access and exchange of this sensitive data far less complicated than it needs to be.
Secure Telehealth Solution
Providing remote patient care with telehealth has been more relevant this year due to the global pandemic crisis. Indeed, this time of crisis highlighted the need for a secure telehealth solution to service not only those who are geographically isolated but also to extend the reach of patient care to those who often need it most. Blockchain plays a role in reliable telehealth delivery because it can account for the accuracy and immutability of telehealth interaction data. As such, blockchain capabilities create a ledger of individual information and identity, transaction timeline, and verification measures. This type of managed and secure transparency over a patient’s health records can simplify what is required from providers while improving the quality of care patients receive.
Limitations Due to Patient Adoption
Blockchain technology will make it secure to conduct, save, and share information gathered by a telehealth encounter and other virtual care services. The information includes diagnostic images, lab results, medical bills, video and audio recordings, data from medical devices, insurance information, etc. Providers and other health industry members can all benefit from using virtual healthcare practices, made better with the adoption of blockchain technology. However, a significant hurdle that needs overcoming is patient reluctance to adopt the move to telehealth and online patient portals. While designs for blockchain solutions in healthcare cater to providers’ use, there needs to be a shift of attention to patient-centric design to encourage adopting these new systems.
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