Streamlining patient care through blockchain
The current COVID-19 pandemic is testing the limits of health-care sectors across Asia, with some countries and regions illustrating the lack of preparation and resources available to deal with a pandemic.
Asia is unique in the sense that it is diverse in both its territories and populations.
It has been interesting to see the way health-care systems in different countries have been prepared and able to cope with the situation, and for the majority of countries and regions, the next few months will place even greater demands on their health-care systems.
With a magnifying glass over the health-care system, we are reminded of the glaring inefficiencies that could be easily addressed with the deployment of emerging technologies such as blockchain. In particular, blockchain has the potential to ease the burden on health-care professionals by streamlining clinical data exchange, improving care coordination, supply chain management and billing.
Before we explore the benefits of blockchain, we must first assess the challenges that are confronting the health-care sectors in various Asian jurisdictions, some of which could be aided by blockchain deployment.
The share of the global population aged between 65 and 80 is expected to double over the next few years — a trend that will have a significant impact on our health-care systems. This presents significant challenges when it comes to ensuring sustainability, with average life expectancy in Asia standing below 70 in southern countries and above 80 in many of the higher-income countries.
Factors such as government expenditure and the quality and accessibility of care vary greatly across countries, leading to issues such as rapid population growth, an aging population and health insurance complications.
In lower-income countries, public health is a major concern, as an increasing number of chronic diseases need to be managed.
Sharing of clinical data
Coupled with this, there is a huge disparity in the delivery and quality of care across the region with the number of siloed care platforms on the rise.
The chasm between health-care platforms often leads to incomplete or unnecessarily protracted patient care by inhibiting the sharing of clinical data between practitioners.
Blockchain is one such technology which can be leveraged to address this issue. When there are multiple touchpoints involved in a patient’s care journey, it increases the need to be able to share information seamlessly through various providers. In this instance, adopting a decentralized and secure blockchain platform will enable better outcomes through greater care coordination, the elimination of waste and stronger data security.
One of the primary ways in which blockchain can address these issues is through the process of streamlining supply chain systems.
For example, during times of crises, there is extreme pressure on the supply and demand of medical equipment.
Health-care providers are trying their best to ensure that the products they purchase are from legitimate suppliers.
Blockchain can assist in determining credible suppliers by providing them with information that will inform them if they meet high-quality standards or not.
As mentioned previously, Asia has the largest aging population in the world and with this comes a deeper focus on long-term care and strategies on how to best manage the growing number of chronic diseases.
Ensuring that people have access to practical and useful health-care information on how best to manage their illness could greatly improve their health outcomes.
In many cases, chronic diseases can be treated through lifestyle changes, particularly through exercise and a balanced diet. As people get older, it becomes harder to change their habits, which highlights the importance of getting friends and family involved in helping them make this change.
The ability to deliver medical advice through technology, where multiple people can engage in a patient’s care journey and share a patient’s data securely between authorized players, can have a profound impact on patient outcomes.
Eleanor Cahill is regional director, Asia Pacific, at Solve.Care, a global health-care company that aims to redefine the current health-care system by leveraging blockchain technology. Her core focus is to drive the development and adoption of Solve.Care in the Asia-Pacific region.