Healthcare should be a logical domain for the practical implementation of blockchain applications. Contemporary healthcare systems are fragmented, non-transparent, and operated by financially-driven intermediaries.

National health care systems are needlessly fragmented and non-transparent. The system that accounts for 12-18% of GDP in developed countries is estimated to hide around 30% of inefficiencies - meaning one third of the money being spent doesn’t benefit the health of individuals. 

Most of this is due to bad coordination of information, while various intermediaries (insurances, care providers, data holders, pharma and medtech companies) are independently operating with high profit margins. Patients too need greater say over management of their health data.

There are two somewhat distinct root problems that blockchain technology is better suited to resolve than other approaches. Both the privacy concern as well as immediate uncertainty of the service value to the user are currently solved via powerful intermediaries and heavy human-controlled bureaucracy. 

Yet, instead of government-controlled privacy management or paternalism on individual interests by public or private insurance organizations in managing the other interest groups, the data about people’s health should be made freely usable for discovering new treatments, paying for delivered outcomes and value, enabling integrated service workflows with fair distribution of payments, incentivizing prudent health behavior and fending off rent-seeking or outright fraud. 

The natural suspicion of public entities toward data management systems that are outside of its direct control could be overcome by enabling a dedicated blockchain shard to govern the integrity of the sensitive data, just like the Estonian government is using KSI Blockchain already. With such privacy and security safeguards protecting the liability of data controllers the programmable tokens can be used on top of that to enable fairer, more efficient and patient-centric healthcare applications.

Hence, censorship-resistant exchange of digital rights on health and related data is perhaps the most impactful approach to break the spell of spiraling healthcare costs.

Richard Bergström
Blockchain and Healthcare Security
Ain Aaviksoo
Blockchain Solutions for Healthcare