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In the fast-moving field of healthcare, the integration of innovative technologies holds the potential to revolutionize the manner patient data is managed and secured. One of the major areas of interest in modern healthcare is the incorporation of Personal Health Records (PHRs), which allow patients to manage and access their health information in a centralized and electronic format.

As the data involve a wide range of information including medical history, medication lists, immunization records, test results, and more, data theft is a potential issue. Moreover, considering PHRs, the interoperability of data poses challenges. One technology that can address issues of data security, interoperability, and patient-centric care is Blockchain technology.

According to the forecast of MarketsandMarkets, the Blockchain market is poised to generate revenue of over $94 billion by the end of 2027, projecting a CAGR of 66.2 % from 2022-2027.

In this article, let us explore the potential impact of PHRs in healthcare, its security issues, and the alliance with blockchain technology addressing issues of data security.

Personal Health Records (PHRs): Empowering Patients

The goal of PHRs is to give an accurate summary of a patient’s medical history, which can be accessed online. The PHR might include lab results, patient-reported outcome data, and other data. 

According to the report of Zion Market Research, Personal Health Record Software Market Size is projected to reach USD 15.55 Billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 8.30%. 

The potential benefits of PHRs include-

  • Tracking patient’s health through analyzing the progress towards the health goals. 
  • It can analyze data from home-monitoring devices and remind patients of doctors’ appointments. 
  • It can track vaccination and appointments and make your treatment organized.
  • Improves patient engagement by letting them access everything about their health. When patients can track their health status, it becomes easier for them to select better treatment.
  • It promotes better health by helping patients manage information from different providers. It also ensures patient information is available online. 
  • The healthcare organization can reduce administrative costs by using a PHR with easy access to electronic prescriptions and scheduling applications. 

Although PHRs are of immense benefit to patients, it is surrounded by some potential challenges that need the incorporation of technological aid to stand into the transforming realm of healthcare. According to a study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, around 54% of the individuals in a cohort study appeared to be apprehensive about the privacy of their PHR when utilizing these services.

The Challenges in PHRs: Issues and Concerns

With the ongoing digitalization, the healthcare industry faces persistent challenges related to data management in PHRs. These include-

  • Traditional health information systems often operate in silos, hindering the seamless exchange of information between different healthcare providers.
  • Moreover, the security and privacy of patient data remain paramount concerns in the era of digital health. The users are concerned about security and privacy when using PHR.
  • Interoperability of data among various healthcare providers is an issue to deal with as systems are not that well equipped or decentralized.

Blockchain Technology: Benefits of Integrating with PHRs

Blockchain technology, known for its decentralized and secure nature, has the potential to address many of the challenges faced by healthcare systems. At its core, blockchain is a distributed ledger that enables secure, transparent, and immutable recording of data. When applied to healthcare, blockchain can enhance data integrity, interoperability, and security.

Securing Patient Data: Enhanced Privacy

Currently, one of the most popular blockchain applications in healthcare is keeping vital medical data secure. Between 2009 and 2022, 5,150 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records have been reported to the HHS OCR, HIPAA Journal reports. Those breaches have resulted in the exposure or impermissible disclosure of 382 million healthcare records. That equates to more than 1.2x the population of the United States.

The decentralized nature of blockchain, coupled with cryptographic security, introduces a transformative approach to safeguard information, especially in sectors like healthcare where the privacy of data is of paramount importance.

Useful for Patient Authentication: Reduced Fraud

Healthcare institutions can now use blockchain technology for patient authentication purposes. It helps in making patient records more secure and reliable. It helps the healthcare sector in enhancing the level of trust among medical professionals.

Anyone willing to access the health records will require the patient’s public key. Patients can seamlessly control who should access what data. Since the data is saved in an encrypted form, it remains unreadable to hackers. A study published in the Journal “Internet of Things”, the integration of blockchain in user identification and authentication can lead to a reduction in data breaches to a great extent.

Surpassing Dangerous and Costly Errors

Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are the leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in healthcare systems across the world. Globally, the cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at USD 42 billion annually.

Since blockchain solutions are decentralized, information is scattered across multiple network nodes, instead of being stored in a single database. Any change made to the information in a node will be updated automatically in all the network nodes. This results in the efficient exchange of up-to-date information with any doctor or health care provider, reducing the chances of errors.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Systems found that blockchain technology can help prevent medication errors by providing a secure and traceable record of medication administration.

Reduce Data Transformation Issues: Saving Time and Cost

Unlike a traditional way of getting information, healthcare records and data can be shared across multiple nodes using the healthcare blockchain worldwide. The need for storing data in various databases could be removed, hence, enabling the simplified approach to access the information required at any time.

According to Frost and Sullivan, in the pharmaceutical industry, the technology can potentially save $200 billion by inhibiting counterfeit and substandard drugs by 2025.

System Interoperability: Connected Care

The inability to exchange medical records could lead to a delay in getting the treatment, blockchain could easily alleviate this problem by decentralizing the data. Everyone within the healthcare network could access a transparent yet immutable ledger while having data ownership.

Challenges in the Implication of Blockchain: Obstacles Ahead

While the integration of PHRs with blockchain technology offers significant advantages, it’s essential to acknowledge and address potential challenges:

Regulatory Compliance

Adherence to healthcare regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is critical. Blockchain implementations must abide by these regulations to ensure the privacy of patient data.

Data Size and Connectivity Issues

Healthcare stakeholders generate a significant volume of medical data. Due to the block size restriction, these values can rapidly exceed the amount of data that can be kept in a standard blockchain architecture. In addition, Blockchain implementation requires high bandwidth and low latency to work in the healthcare sector.

Data Immutability

The immutable data of blockchain is an excellent security measure against fraud and the benefits of blockchain technology. Challenges related to data immutability in healthcare on the blockchain include:

  • Difficulty correcting or removing errors due to blockchain’s immutability.
  • Compliance complexities regarding patient data removal rights.
  • Issues with real-time updates and system interoperability.

The potential solutions to these issues involve off-chain data storage, encrypted access, and permissioned blockchain access while ensuring blockchain security benefits.

Future Trends of Blockchain-guided PHRs:

Despite the various drawbacks, the major future trends of blockchain-integrated PHRs are going to be guided by –

  • The integration of IoT devices with blockchain-based PHRs will provide a more comprehensive and real-time view of an individual’s health status.
  • The combination of blockchain with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will enhance the capabilities of PHRs by enabling predictive analytics, personalized treatment plans, and more efficient data analysis.

Summing it Up

As PHRs are gaining interest from a large number of patients, ensuring safety and interoperability are the major issues to be addressed. Codewave is Designing Blockchain platforms to bring together multiple healthcare sectors to collaborate with radical transparency, gaining digital consensus & agility, while serving people.

Our Blockchain implementation service includes:

  • Blockchain Technology Consulting
  • Diagnosis & identification of potential for a Blockchain-enabled platform
  • PoC / rapid prototyping for early validation & feedback
  • Smart contract implementation
  • Custom blockchain solution development

Our team of Blockchain experts helps enterprises integrate Blockchain into their digital transformation strategy. We build on platforms like Hyperledger, Ethereum, Corda, hashgraph, and Stellar to help you develop reliable and innovative Blockchain business solutions. Hurry!!! Call us today to explore our range of services.