Potential benefits of Blockchain in the NHS

27 December 2019

Over the past few years, we have seen a lot of interest around Blockchain and its potential. Many people believe it is the propeller that will save every industry and make all Blockchain-based companies flourish. Although there are many possibilities of Blockchain applications, we rarely hear something from the medical sector. Today we will talk about the British national health system to carry out this analysis. So, here we go: let’s see the potential advantages of having Blockchain in the NHS.

NHS: an overview

The NHS (National Health System) takes care of 1.4 million patients every 24 hours, totally free of charge, and it is also the largest employer of the country, if we consider the over 150,000 doctors and over 320,000 nurses.

The NHS is almost exclusively funded by taxpayers, but there are also various associations and charities among the contributors.

Imagine the flow of money and data: it is enormous! Keeping a record of everything is overwhelmingly complicated, and that’s why the NHS is actively seeking help from new technologies, as centralised projects proved not to work effectively.

With poor communication, mistakes are around the corner, privacy is a serious issue, and financial transparency is just utopian.

Blockchain in the NHS

There is no way a single technology can change everything about a national healthcare system, however, the real question is: is technology capable of improving the actual situation?

We believe so.

Thanks to Blockchain, we know people and organisations can send money and any digital information directly to each other, without any central authority or gateway. Transactions are validated by the network, and bigger the network is, the more solid and valuable the platform is. Also, consider Blockchain’s native immutability.

Imagine using this technology to create an immutable record log and a single communication channel with no need of a single, central intermediate party: it would speed up any process and make any patient record safe, unchangeable, and auditable at any time. With data encryption, privacy would be guaranteed.

Furthermore, implementing Blockchain in the NHS would help to solve issues that have been going on for years, such as cutting administration costs, improving productivity, ensuring financial transparency, a common access to medical records, easy pharmaceutical supply chain checks, improved patient and nurse identifications, and a better management of funds.

Of course, this is a drastic change that can’t be done overnight, but the benefits that it brings make it worth a try.

Next steps

There is a lot to be done, but there are a lot of factors to take into account: the best kind of blockchain to be used (either public or private with a permission system), the use of cryptocurrencies or any kind of token inside the network, the regulations (not only GDPR) and how they will change after Brexit.

Moreover, there are a lot of questions that as of now remain unanswered: who will fund any eventual proof-of-concept trials? Will politics accept or oppose this radical change? How will private companies react and how will they try to stop this migration? Will the medical sector be able to even the economic differences in the various areas of the country?

Restructuring and reorganising the healthcare to implement Blockchain in the NHS is a colossal challenge, but, as we said, benefits outdo costs.

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