Healthcare blockchain applications are among the most significant in industry, as patient records contain personal information while the medical industry is so expansive and demanded. In this industry, blockchains are digital records of official health-related transactions, and therefore include both healthcare and financial records, in addition to fundamental personal data.
Information system optimization demands are arguably unparalleled in this respect, and there are a range of areas of industrial significance that can be strategically addressed for improved outcomes in business. These have resulted in a range of implications for research and development.
Addressing sensitive information protection, implementation benefits specific to the organization, data breach issues, blockchain implementation and challenges, and potential governmental roles can help an organization achieve optimal best practices. Remaining current with this literature is therefore further strategic.
There is substantial value from blockchain implementation in the industry, but potentially not great enough to warrant immediate stakeholder investments or decision making amid the nature of success of the currently integrated system. Previous or traditional information systems may not include the security and efficiency benefits that a blockchain system has, while the costs of implementation may outweigh the advantages that implementation would result in.
However, the general benefits of blockchains are superior to traditional systems fundamentally, as they have been designed and increasingly developed as more complex and potentially more dynamic systems of added security. Improvements to business functionality and processes may include establishing a trust network, lowering the expenses that are associated with transactions, establishing standardized data fields, and creating and maintaining a system for data management which is real-time in nature.
Achieving specific benefits in revenue and outcome naturally varies when there is potential improvements to business processes achieved through targeting any of the aforementioned areas; the successes that can be gained through achieving a higher competitive or comparative advantage may be difficult to measure without a specific analyses in any of the given areas.
Patients may potentially experience more informed interactions with their provider’s information system in updated systems, and may require that there is such a new system in place when choosing providers. New technology has been facilitating “smart” contracts that patients may require. Blockchains in the industry also lower the costs required for transactions, as well as the costs that are required to store patient records. The combination of these benefits, when applicable to an altered information system, may result in increased patient influxes combined with reduced expenses in processing these patients. In cases when cloud computing is used within a facility, blockchains can improve data transaction speed and effectiveness, potentially affecting patient relationships in addition to aspects of internal processes.
Still other areas of potentially added value may make blockchain technology appear to be the most strategic choice of investment in technological developments in the business near-term or future. Standardization of file types resulting from use may be perceived as a benefit by managers or human resources employees.
The potential to assess data in a real-time way can be an improvement to researchers and analysts working in or for the facility; managers may also perceive this as desireable for its capacity to improve individual subscription or prescription processes, medication tracking, and developments involving concurrent multiple appointments.
Added patient control over data can be attractive and a factor responsible for a patient staying in a facility. Management may prefer the visibility of changes to the patient network, immutable data insertions, and the capacity to detect changes to the system that were not properly authorized. The potential for both patients and doctors to review relevant information before it becomes part of the record can make it preferrable to other information system options, as it is believed to promote accuracy and confidence in an organization’s methods.
Information protection is generally the reason that organizations choose to implement some type of blockchain technology. Hackers are known to have the least potential of being able to penetrate blockchain systems, and therefore managers and patients alike tend to prefer these highly and most secure systems.
The evolving systems have been praised for their capacities to be increasingly helpful to the security challenges that have been present in the industry. Hackers are now required to steal keys in addition to breaching the network, which is much more challenging in comparison to previous systems.
Blockchain data breaching capacities may be a strategic long-term investment, even when initial investments may appear to be somewhat steep to stakeholders, due to the reduced potential for incidents and response measures. HIPAA cases recorded have supported this trend while security evolution in criminal justice has continued to work against the adaptations of criminals. Blockchain technology is generally regarded as superior to other forms of technology in terms of evolution.
Implementation challenges and limits present in medical blockchain technology include cost and software resource material in addition to scheduling and managerial issues which may be present to specific organizational elements and processes. Preparation in terms of education, training demands, access issues, and ownership aspects of the materials used may be considered to be too challenging or great of an obstacle for stakeholders to regard as sufficiently valuable amid risk in decision-making processes.
There are education barriers in addition to technical ones as well, because there are knowledge gaps in employees who are not obligated to remain current with literature or receive and training (including from themselves) regarding the nature of best practices. Access control, ownership variables, and implementation permissions from stakeholders can also potentially affect the way the integration processes are managed, inspected, and modified as deemed necessary.
Resistance to change is commonly known to be a potential factor in decision making processes of this scope, and can be a factor in healthcare environments regarding technological developments such as blockchain. Privacy laws and regulations may be difficult to address, and can hinder implementations midway or in scheduled timelines.
Combining encryption best practices with patient information within a policy for control can facilitate the extent of trust management that is demanded or potentially beneficial to users. Scalability can potentially be a challenge because of the growing amount of information that is created across the periods of time involved in use.
Integrating blockchain establishes a system for distributing the complete extents of patient records to any node within the network, which is more effective and efficient compared to other network design types, but also has an inherent risk of exposing a greater extent of patient information when the system is breached by a criminal.
Administrative aspects can be especially challenging when considering the extent of variables that have to be addressed in order to properly address the extent of business processes relevant while optimizing the funding that is invested within the area. Implementation is naturally limited in extent of applicability and progressive change, which can involve varying ranges of extents of checks and balances that are required to properly manage, assess, and update the system as deemed required.
Governmental aspects can affect aspects of use, ranging from integration to extent of detail involved in use applications. Regulation and compliance demands can require that organizations delay or halt their attempts to update their systems. Transparency variables may need to be addressed as aspects of organizational function, and international organization models may be strategic to use.
Research and development continues to address recommendations to improve systems that do not use blockchain, or that are generally outdated. Improved blockchain technology and processes continue to be developed and practical for commercial implementations. Stakeholders in the healthcare field have found new aspects increasingly practical for use, and this is therefore an area that should be included in efforts to remain current with literature.