Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Hospitals can reduce treatment expense by 50% by adopting blockchain technology & IoT

Digitization driven primarily by blockchain technology and Internet of Things (IoT) will prove to be a catalyst in transforming the healthcare industry that is ripe for innovation. The use of the digital technologies will bring down healthcare industry's treatment expenditure by 50 per cent by 2020 from existing 70 per cent.

Blockchain, a peer to peer distributed ledger technology for a new generation of transactional application, enables hospitals to decrease the cost of audits and compliance, reduce compliance risk by ensuring increased transparency in claims activities, put in place tamper-proof audit trails, and enhance patient data security. This will help healthcare facilities improve patient care and make greater profits, said Dr Sandeep Narula, professor at IIHMR University, Jaipur .

Blockchain technology having features like decentralization of control, high availability, and data integrity through end-to-end encryption, facilitates safe data exchange and transactions across the healthcare sector, encouraging precise diagnosis and improved care at low costs, while fostering greater revenue cycle management, he said.

IoT is primarily sensor devices, through cloud computing people are using this technology. It gives medical devices ability to store and share crucial information through the use of data-capturing sensors and radio-frequency identification (RFID).

“With the help of IoT, a person’s data is collected throughout the care pathway which helps diagnose the patient so they can receive the best treatment at the earliest. It enables people to lead better lives by using connected devices viz. tablets, wearables and hand-held devices,”
said Dr Narula.

The data that could be taken from a network of IoT devices will also be able to significantly lower margins of error. It could be able to detect several health issues, from high blood pressure to early signs of delirium thereby lowering emergency hospitalisation. By embedding IoT-enabled devices in medical device, doctors will be able to monitor patients more effectively – and use the data collected from the devices to determine who needs the most hands-on attention, he added.

Blockchain plays a massive role in the IoT by enhancing security, enabling incorporation of devices to be viable. It enables IoT devices to take part in transactions.

There is a rise in volume of patient data handled by hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies annually. Patient data comprises electronic health records, health information exchanges, data collected from monitoring systems and IoT devices, medical insurance claims. Blockchain technology helps verify the integrity of patient data shared between organizations, prove the integrity of data collected in clinical trials.

The technology is helpful when new drugs, innovation are launched. Misuse of drugs and overuse of drugs, insurance can be tackled through block chain technology. It brings transparency.

Now we are moving from healthcare to wellness market. IoT and blockchain will play crucial role towards this. For healthcare industry 70 per cent expenditure occurs on treatment. By 2020 we expect treatment cost will be reduced to 50 per cent from 70 per cent. Preventive care will increase to 12 per cent by 2020 from existing 5 per cent. Diagnostics will rise from 15 per cent to 21 per cent. Monitoring will grow to 25 per cent from 7-8 per cent. There will be millions of healthcare monitoring devices using IoT. Today data storage costs USD 40,000 a month. It will be come down USD 4 a month by 2020 because of cloud computing. When patients are not well, signals can be transmitted to doctors who rush to patients immediately and timely treatment is assured to patients. It will reduce treatment cost dramatically, he concluded.

                                                                               The article is authored by Dr. Sandeep Narula,
                                                                           Associate Professor at the IIHMR University
                                                                             You can reach him on: -sandeep@iihmr.edu.in