You’ve probably heard of smartwatches and televisions, but have you heard of smart health care? It’s defined as a health service system that uses technology to dynamically access information, connect people, materials, and institutions related to care, and actively manage and respond to medical ecosystem needs in an intelligent manner.

Two key innovations that have aided in the development of smart health care are blockchain technology and the Internet of Things (IoT). They’re designed to combat key challenges of health care data management systems, including data transparency, traceability, immutability, audit, data provenance, flexible access, trust, privacy and security.

In this blog, we’re going to explain how both blockchain and IoT might be employed across the health care industry and what advantages they offer to providers and other entities.

Blockchain basics

PwC refers to blockchain as a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network through which participants can confirm transactions without a need for a central clearing authority. Each “block” denotes a specific data structure within the network, and the “chain” describes an arrangement of blocks in a specified order. Within each blockchain are three key components: a peer-to-peer network of nodes, cryptography and a consensus model.

In blockchain technology, content is decentralized and shared with all parties in a given network instead of being owned by a single entity or central authority. Any transaction made is recorded, verified through a consensus method and viewable by all participants. There are three types of blockchains: private, public and hybrid or consortium.

Research has found that blockchain is being used to develop novel and advanced interventions to improve the prevalent standards of handling, sharing and processing of medical data and personal health records. Some health care entities are utilizing it to further the advantages of data analytics by improving how providers collaborate to manage data.

In theory, blockchain has the potential to address critical concerns, such as automated claim validation and public health management, and could be used to manage patient incentive programs. It also has the potential to address the interoperability challenges in health IT systems and be the technical standard that enables individuals, providers, health care entities and medical researchers to securely share electronic health data.

Currently, blockchain allows for electronic health records (EHRs) to be more dependable and easily managed by consolidating records into a common technology to eliminate incompatibility issues between platforms. Plus, it offers access, security, scalability and data privacy and can be used for master patient indices, claims adjudication, supply chain management and single, longitudinal patient records.

The adoption of the blockchain technology could save the health care industry $100-$150 billion per year by 2025 in costs related to data breaches, IT and operations, support function and personnel, as well as through a reduction in fraud and counterfeit products. An estimated 55% of health care applications will have adopted blockchain for commercial deployment by 2025, and the global health care market spend on blockchain is expected to hit $5.61 billion by 2025.

Understanding IoT

Technological forces like IoT and big data have rapidly increased the amount of electronic information enterprises must handle. Gartner defines IoT as “the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.” Examples of IoT devices include wearables, smart televisions and ingestible sensors.

IoT has a potential economic impact of $3.9 to $11.1 trillion per year by 2025, with the global market size of IoT in health care projected to reach $352.88 billion by 2027. Approximately 60% of health care organizations have introduced IoT devices into their facilities.

Many health care entities utilize IoT for maintenance, with the most common use being patient monitoring. Through the use of wearable sensor devices, providers have the ability to remotely monitor patients, especially those with chronic diseases, resulting in the capability for earlier interventions, a decrease in unnecessary appointments, lower costs and improved patient outcomes. These IoT devices have the capacity to monitor a wide range of patient information, such as temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose level and more.

Benefits that may be achieved through the use of IoT technology include:

  • Better understanding of diseases and treatments to manage the health of populations
  • Improved quality and effectiveness of service for the elderly and patients who require constant supervision
  • Automatic transmission of patient data to EHR systems for increased accuracy and enhanced patient care
  • Combination of smart sensors, wireless technology and location-based tracking to optimize the flow of patients, employees and equipment
  • Increased flow of patient data for population health data
  • Integration of data from separate medical devices and disparate systems for enhanced analytics
  • Streamlined transition to digital data to decrease costs and improve patient outcomes
  • Increased efficiency and sharper focus on high-quality patient care

Read one of our recent blogs to find out how your health care organization can achieve the benefits of cloud technology without compromising security. Or schedule a demo to learn more about MLS peer review and IME services.

How Use of Blockchain and IoT Technology Impacts Health Care