Blockchain technology is a distributed ledger, wherein records of transactions is being recorded with the help of peer-to-peer network and entries once entered are difficult to change. The technology brings in transparency to the entire system, where it is being used. Owing to this safety feature many advocate and promote the use of blockchain technology across industries, and especially for healthcare, as multiple number of health records that have to be maintained for a patient.
Also, the data entered in the system is done by different stakeholders and is shared among several people, including physicians, institutions, hospitals, and several other providers. Even though the technology captures the data entered, it doesn’t take into account the semantics of the data or the nature of data. This is one of the major challenges that blockchain technology possesses, which is also preventing the growth of the technology in the healthcare industry.
Blockchain technology facilitates the platform for information exchange with the data compiled from various networks; however, it is imperative that full semantic interoperability must be achieved across the chain, i.e., the exchange of data and information must be seamless. Also, a dearth in interoperability can cause disruption in exchange, analysis, and understanding of data.
However, if the issues that are prohibiting interoperability can be fixed, it can improve the current situation and can also help in reducing the cost and increasing the efficiency of workflow. Many a times, it has been observed that clinicians spend a lot of time searching for patient records, and if these records can be maintained at a central data system, it would become easy for healthcare practitioners to recall or refer to whenever required.
Moreover, there is an increased concern related to the privacy of data with regards to storage and exchange of data among various members of the healthcare industry, which recently has witnessed an increased number of data breaches and attacks.
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources or FHIR is a platform that gives a platform to develop a common language for different systems to connect and share data with others in the value chain. In addition, several companies have already started the implementation of the FHIR system application; thus, enabling patients to combine their health records from across institutions on one common platform. Thus, making access to healthcare data across entities, easy and seamless.
Many people expect that with the FHIR system in place, there is a need to develop the blockchain system considering it can enable easy access of data. However, it does not have the system to resolve all the issues related to interoperability, thus by combining the two it can help develop a more consumer-centric database.
This is expected to enable a centralized medium for patients to store their records and help institutions in mitigating the challenge to choose the best platform to partner with. This will also eliminate duplicity or multiplicity of entries of a single person at multiple platforms.
It further enhances the security of the data encrypted on the system as it is inherently secured, considering the data is entered in separate blocks. Combining the two technologies i.e., FHIR and blockchain, can also help in maintaining the accuracy of data considering the data cannot be tampered with and can only be updated.