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Beyond Bitcoins: Blockchain's Vital Role in Healthcare Innovation


Blockchain in Healthcare
Image source: Coin Guru | Beyond Bitcoins: Blockchain's Vital Role in Healthcare Innovation

Do you know how much a cryptocurrency is currently worth? Even if you are reading this content at a time of extreme appreciation or devaluation of this financial exchange model, the disruption that digital currencies have caused throughout the market cannot be forgotten. After all, with their popularity driven by appreciation rates of up to 200%, cryptocurrencies are also coveted because they are not transported through the streets in armored cars, much less are they susceptible to cyber attacks. In other words, its rise is primarily due to blockchain security technology, which also made an impact and brought benefits to sectors beyond finance, such as Healthcare.


What makes blockchain a powerful tool for managing healthcare businesses is its ability to offer traceability, sharing, and, fundamentally, cryptographic data security. To further highlight its positive purposes, the stakeholders must think about the impact of concepts such as patient safety and the General Data Protection Law (LGPD).


Blockchain gained the attention of businesses in 2008, first within the stock market. To understand what blockchain is and how it works, it is necessary to dissociate it from cryptocurrency – although many people believe they are the same thing.



Cryptocurrency


Also known as cyber currency or digital currency, it is a means of financial exchange, which can be centralized or decentralized. Cryptocurrencies were the first practical application of blockchain security. A big plot involves the history of digital currencies, the concept of which was presented in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto (pseudonym of a person or group of cryptocurrency creators) in the article Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Money System, therefore, bitcoin was the first of the cryptocurrencies.


The entire structure of a cryptocurrency was designed as a way to carry out a financial transaction in the online universe without the mandatory intervention of a central bank (a centralizing monetary authority). To this end, Nakamoto proposed a model of monetary exchange carried out from person to person (peer-to-peer), in which the security of the transaction would be guaranteed by strict cryptographic control, the blockchain. Well, in addition to the first article presenting Bitcoin and blockchain, Nakamoto registered the domain bitcoin.org, which was passed on to other developers – all without revealing his real identity.


Although the mystery of who Nakamoto is has not yet been solved, bitcoin has heated up the world of finance and exposed the benefits of blockchain technology, which had emerged years before the cryptocurrency revolution.


The first work involving blockchain appeared in 1991, in a publication signed by scientists Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta. The article described a hierarchy of data and digital information called “Block Chain”, in which no one could tamper with the time and date records of the documents contained in each block.


In fact, this description is very close to the current concept of blockchain security: a chain of blocks containing data and information, with each block having a cryptographic hash. It is a mathematical function that generates a block validation algorithm, in which it is impossible to discover the input value with just the output value. Each block is added to the chain after its cryptographic validation. Therefore, blockchain is a distributed data validation record, in which only authorized people within the system have access to blocks of information.


Benefits of Blockchain in the Healthcare Industry


In Healthcare, the most widespread application of blockchain is the protection of patient data. Furthermore, it is possible to track the stock of inputs, and medication prescriptions and ensure that patients' personal data is safe from any breach or public exposure – thus establishing a level of digital security in compliance with the LGPD. In medicine, information such as confidential clinical trials or patient records are protected and accessible only to professionals and the holder of each personal data.


To access the information, you need a cryptographic key responsible for decryption. Without this, data blocks cannot be accessed and, in the event of an invasion attempt, the entire system stops itself, making the attack unfeasible.


In addition to the features related to digital security, the unchanged history of the blocks allows the organization to carry out a detailed survey of the most varied information. This can benefit, for example, the diagnosis process via Electronic Patient Records. Therefore, any change can lead to errors and compromise patient safety. Therefore, the blockchain has another important characteristic: for any change in the information in a block, another is created by the system with the new changes. The previous one is kept in the system and all blocks contain the date and time of all modifications.


Data Is the Basis of Everything


Due to the high reliability of the security and data validation system, blockchain is present within several businesses that have already adapted to the accelerated changes of digital transformation. This shows that it is not enough to simply adopt innovation in the integrated systems of a Healthcare organization. After all, if there is no systemic data capture, with well-structured processes and a digital culture disseminated among all teams, the benefits of blockchain may be limited.


The importance of blockchain refers to the increased use of information systems, which generate enormous amounts of data to support the decision-making of any healthcare organization. This happens both from a care point of view, with gains for quality of life of patients, as well as from a management point of view, allowing the maintenance of the financial health of the business.

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