Blockchain Applications: The Solution to Data Breaches in Healthcare
Data breaches are increasing in frequency in businesses across the country, and the healthcare industry is no exception.
The Cost of Data Breaches
These data breaches cost hospitals about $6.5 million on average. This number is made up not only for the cost of the initial breach, but the costs of solving the problem as well as the lost revenue from damaged trust. Hospitals have to hire lawyers, cybersecurity experts, as well as pay a team to send out patient notifications. Once patients know about their information being compromised, they are more likely to change providers and that can also have financial consequences to the hospital. With all of the moving parts to solve data breaches, small to medium sized healthcare organizations spend about $2.5 million to recover.
If the cost is so high, why are data breaches so common? One reason is that much of the security software that is used in healthcare is very outdated. This older software leaves large holes in security that make it easier for hackers to obtain patients’ data. Many medical devices that are used in hospitals are made by companies that are no longer in business, with implanted interconnected devices being very hackable. With this outdated software, providers lack the awareness and resources to be able to securely keep patient information. Most hospitals don’t even have full-time cybersecurity employees!
The tension between cybersecurity experts and providers doesn’t help, as experts try to fix problems with old software but providers don’t install the new updates. Many providers think that cybersecurity experts are over exaggerating the severity of security problems within the healthcare system and are more worried about protecting the physical privacy of patients. What providers don’t realize is that cybersecurity threats directly risk patient privacy, and by ignoring warnings by cybersecurity they are endangering their patients information.
To solve these problems, healthcare organizations are making the switch to blockchain, which has many applications in the healthcare industry. Blockchain is a more secure way to store patient data, with information being split into fragmented systems that are harder to hack. Blockchain also keeps a ledger for recording transactions and tracking assets, meaning there is more transparency about who is viewing information.
How Blockchain Can Be Applied
Blockchain can be used in the medical field in remote monitoring systems. These devices can monitor things such as blood pressure, pulse, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and even epileptic seizures.
Monitoring devices that are powered by blockchain store information in a patient hub that contains all the health records for that person. This information is easier to access by providers and makes it so that care can be administered more efficiently, benefiting both the patient and the provider. Wearable devices also record patient data in real time so that providers have an accurate report of their health remotely. Using block-chain powered devices is less costly than current devices, and their user-friendly model makes it so that the level of human error is significantly decreased.
NFT’s in Healthcare?
Another application of blockchain in the medical field are health data NFT’s. Non-fungible tokens can secure an individual’s health records and prevent instances of identity theft and fraud. Providers could also be sure that the data is genuine if they are providing care remotely through a telehealth system. Telehealth can lead to identity theft since patients are sharing data remotely and have no way of knowing if their information is being compromised by third parties. Using NFT’s would take away this risk for both patients and providers, and patients could even profit off their information if they chose to share data with third parties rather than it being hacked and stolen.
Healthcare organizations across the country are seeing the benefits of blockchain applications in their daily routines. Telehealth companies are using blockchain to secure real time messaging and enforce their business rules. The privacy first design means that patients can rest assured their information is being secured safely. Companies can also use blockchain to secure negotiations and contract management meaning that interactions are efficient while also being protected. Many healthcare organizations appreciate the ability to use blockchain to perform data collection and analysis. All of these uses of blockchain directly correlates to higher efficiency and trust in business processes.
The benefits of blockchain are numerous, and there are many applications that can be used in the medical field. With higher security, increased efficiency, and easy to use models, it seems obvious that all healthcare organizations should make the switch to blockchain applications. In a time where data breaches are becoming more and more frequent, patient data should be prioritized, but with outdated software in hospitals today it is not. Switching to blockchain would prioritize security and be mutually beneficial for both providers and patients.
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