Blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) are two of the most talked-about technologies today. Although they have existed for years, they've only recently started to be used more widely in real-world applications.
Blockchain and IoT are often compared to each other, but first, let's look at what exactly blockchain and IoT are before we take a look at how these two powerful technologies can be used together for better healthcare.
What are Blockchain and IoT?
Blockchain and IoT are two different things but have much in common. Let's explore what they are, how they work together, and how blockchain can help healthcare providers make their work more efficient.
IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software sensors/actuators/networking connectivity that enables these objects to connect and exchange data.
IoT can be applied to any industry, but it has particular benefits for healthcare. Healthcare is an industry that is constantly evolving and improving its services to meet patient needs.
Some key benefits of IoT include improved operational efficiency, increased collaboration between business partners, new revenue streams for existing products, better customer service, and new product ideas based on analytics data from customer usage patterns.
A blockchain is a distributed ledger that stores data securely and can be accessed by multiple parties. This makes it an ideal tool for storing medical records, often scattered across different systems and providers.
Benefits of Blockchain and IoT for Smart Healthcare
Just some of the benefits of blockchain and IoT for smart healthcare are as follows:
1. Better Data Management
As big a problem as data management is for healthcare, blockchain may just provide the solution.
The data stored on the blockchain is encrypted so that only authorized users have access to it. Since there's no central server location, hackers will have difficulty getting their hands on sensitive information like patient diagnoses or prescriptions. Blockchain can also help reduce medical errors by keeping track of each step in the process.
By storing patient data in a single, secure location, doctors and nurses will have access to all relevant information - including lab results, medication histories, and allergies - so they can avoid prescribing the wrong drug or making other mistakes that could cause harm.
IoT can likely enable better data management and analysis by healthcare providers. It can help increase the efficiency of healthcare operations by reducing the time needed for manual data entry since multiple operations can be easily automated.
Among other things, automation is one of the biggest benefits of IoT. It can increase the efficiency of operations by automatically generating reports, which are then shared with insurers, patients, and other stakeholders.
Better data management with blockchain and IoT can contribute overall to a safer and more stable experience in the long run for all stakeholders in smart healthcare.
2. Enhanced Information Flow
In the world of smart healthcare, devices can communicate with each other and the central server. This means that data can be shared between devices in the same hospital or even between hospitals or clinics.
Once the implementation of this is successful, the possibilities are endless. For example, a patient could have their health records on their phone that doctors can update automatically whenever they visit a clinic. This could make it incredibly convenient for them to access and share their health record.
IoT can improve the flow of information between hospitals and doctor’s offices by making it easier for clinicians to access patient records from anywhere at any time.
Connected devices like smart stethoscopes allow doctors to listen to heartbeats remotely using their smartphones or tablets. This helps them diagnose patients remotely without physically examining them in person.
Further, patients could share their medical history with insurance companies to help them get better coverage, and healthcare providers could use IoT to analyze data from wearable devices to improve personalized treatment plans for individual patients.
3. Improved Safety and Security
Blockchain is the safest and most secure way to store and distribute data. The technology is both immutable, meaning once data is inputted, it can't be modified without being detected by other users on the chain, and transparent, which means anyone can view all of their transactions.
This makes blockchain a more secure option than centralized databases used in healthcare today because any given hacker would need to compromise multiple nodes for them to gain access across an entire network of systems at once.
Its decentralized nature also means there are no single points of failure or attack vectors for hackers to target when trying to access sensitive information within a blockchain system.
IoT will help secure personal health information by encrypting it before sending it through the network. This ensures that only authorized individuals can access it, preventing unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information such as medical conditions or treatments received by an individual over time.
Further, connected devices will send alerts when they detect dangerous conditions such as high blood pressure or elevated temperatures in patients’ homes.
Important documents and files like patient records, medical history, appointment calendars, and more can be safely and securely stored, managed, and maintained with the help of immutable technology using Blockchain and IoT.
4. Democratic Access to Healthcare
Blockchain technology can be a powerful tool to help democratize healthcare. It is a decentralized, transparent ledger that can be accessed and audited by anyone.
Blockchain technology does not require any single person or entity to monopolize data storage and management. This is where the smart healthcare sector can benefit from its many advantages.
Since blockchain is a distributed ledger system (a series of ledgers spread out across multiple locations), no one entity has control over the entire system - therefore allowing for an increased level of privacy and security for patients who wish their health information remain private from insurance companies, employers, or other institutions.
Similarly, blockchain also increases accessibility for people who have historically been excluded from accessing healthcare due to financial constraints or lack of available resources in their area.
It does this by providing greater transparency around how funds are used within the healthcare industry (such as through smart contracts), which could hopefully see greater flexibility around how these funds could be allocated towards providing better services across different demographics.
These could be sectors of society that often face challenges accessing quality care either directly through higher costs or indirectly through limited availability because there aren't enough providers operating within these communities already.
5. Reliability and Transparency
Blockchain and IoT technology can be used to create a secure and transparent platform for the collection and exchange of medical data.
Among other things, IoT enables patients to access their medical records from any device at any time, which increases transparency and improves medical care overall. This is done by giving consumers more control over their health information while also allowing them more direct access to their doctors when needed.
It can help ensure the privacy and integrity of patient data by using algorithms to encrypt information while still allowing it to be accessed by authorized parties.
Blockchain and IoT technology can even be used in healthcare today in various applications:
Patient records are managed on a blockchain ledger system that allows patients access at any time to their records, including lab results, medications prescribed, procedures undergone, etc., giving them more control over their healthcare decisions.
Medical research results are securely stored on blockchains so that researchers have access but cannot tamper with them.
Researchers can share anonymized patient information through encrypted channels without compromising sensitive information.
In short, blockchain and IoT offer a unique opportunity for healthcare providers to shift from reactive to proactive care. By integrating these technologies into their systems, they can greatly improve the quality of their services and even save lives by increasing safety and security.
With so many benefits offered by these two technologies working together, it’s clear that they will continue to play an important role in the future of smart healthcare.
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