Blockchain and the Future of Personalized Medicine
Blockchain was originally conceived to securely track financial transactions using cryptographic techniques. However, that technology is now being applied across multiple industries, one of which is healthcare. We previously discussed one of the more practical applications for blockchain in healthcare — its integration with electronic health records systems (EHRs). This week, we’re examining its potential for use in a more experimental way, and that’s as a part of the future of personalized (“precision”) medicine.
How might blockchain contribute to the rise of personalized medicine?
Although blockchain was developed for financial applications (Bitcoin), it can be used to track almost any information that would benefit from centralization. Making all of a patient’s health data available in a single, time-stamped, cloud-based, incorruptible, 100% secure digital “file,” from birth through the entire lifespan, would enable a holistic view unlike anything ever seen before. Imagine being able to keep track of every factor that could impact an individual’s health all in one place: negative and positive behavioral influences and impacts (i.e. alcohol and drug use, exercise, diet, etc.), family health history, genetic profile, response to past treatments including regimen compliance, not to mention relevant socioeconomic and demographic information, across health systems and providers. This would change the way patients are currently treated from the ground, up.
How might personalized medicine, made possible by blockchain, improve patient care?
It’s probably a mistake to say that blockchain itself will somehow revolutionize patient care; after all, it’s a tracking mechanism more than anything. However, the blockchain is poised to be utilized in the healthcare industry in potentially extraordinary ways that will give patients more control of their own information, and doctors and other providers more and better access to their patients’ full medical history when approved by patients. Blockchain essentially “de-silos” what has traditionally been an incredibly segregated industry in terms of information sharing.
By integrating information from multiple sources, when used in concert with other cutting-edge technologies like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain will open up new opportunities to better understand and create solutions for devastating health problems, in particular, chronic diseases. For instance:
- More than 71% of the 56 million annual deaths that occur globally are the result of preventable chronic conditions. These include heart disease, diabetes, and many respiratory conditions like COPD.
- As much as 80% of all heart disease, diabetes, and instances of stroke can be prevented when risk factors are monitored and lifestyle changes are made as necessary. 40% of cancers could be prevented as well.
Most medical experts agree that the majority of these diseases are preventable when behavior modification and wellness programs are implemented in a sustainable way, and if a care team is able to track both compliance and medical history in one place, it could very well lead to new discoveries in how best to manage them or even prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Healthcare and personalized technology solutions.
Blockchain may not be commonly used to solve healthcare challenges now, but there are already many companies using technology to improve patient care. Aquina is one of them.
Take our Curae solution, for example. Curae gives patients more options to easily finance their own care as an “invisible” part of the intake process, reducing stress in an age of ever-increasing patient financial responsibility by taking into consideration their personal financial needs. Curious to find out more about how Curae integrates into your current EHR? Simply visit Aquina Health today to get started.