Blockchain & Hospital Supply Chain

Nowadays in Bangladesh, healthcare is one of the booming sectors; in particular, Private Hospitals are best examples for that. The growth of private hospitals is increasing day by day. The best part of this sector is, it has extends healthcare facilities & services towards ailing humanity.

Right now, we have 607 Government hospital and more than 5000 private hospital and clinics as well as 10,675 private registered diagnostic centres 10,675 under DGHS in Bangladesh.

There are more than 500 regular suppliers to support these hospitals and diagnostic. On the other side, Allopathic Registered Manufacture 206, Retail Pharmacy 106,224 and wholesale pharmacy 970.

Therefore, we can say that, growing businesses demand on hospital/healthcare the need to bring innovative changes in all the facts of their businesses as time and technology development.

If we talk about quality healthcare services financed up with the latest technology is the need for today. Moreover, the hospital/healthcare technology is unstable towards a more patient-centric approach that focuses on two major essentials namely, affordable treatment and apt healthcare facilities at all times.

Current Healthcare System

If we focusing on quality health care services means ensuring patient health management as well as low cost at a superior level at all times.

However, government rules and regulations are making processes even more extensive because of this, it is not possible to keep such processes intact and still provide effective patient care.

The major issue in providing quality healthcare services is the gap between providers and payers.

In considering the Bangladesh healthcare sector, the dependency of suppliers in the health care supply chain makes it even not as good as.

In the healthcare sector, critical patient data and information remains scattered across different departments and systems. Due to this, crucial data is not accessible and handily available in times of need. The existing healthcare ecosystem cannot be considered complete, as multiple players in the system do not have a system in place for smooth process management. Moreover, it is also termed as inadequate for handling the exchange of information and requires certain major changes.

In healthcare sector, patient information is a very vital issue cause of the information spread across different departments and systems. As a result, the necessary information is not accessible and accessible at the time available. Existing healthcare ecosystems cannot be fully considered because the system does not have a system for smooth operation of multiple players. Moreover, it is considered inadequate for information exchange and some major changes are needed.

Until now, we use very old system to keep patient information for that reason some time doctor face difficulties to find patient previous information as well as patient face annoying. Existing problems in current healthcare are not limited. They keep growing with high force with time. The need for a technically advanced system is implausible. Setting up a system with proper tracking features in the supply chain can reduce dramatically.

The Health Information Exchange is another time consuming and tedious process due to high prices in the healthcare industry. Since patients have no control over their information, the possibility of identity theft, financial information and spamming are increasing every day.

Not only the patient’s information, have we now had an old-fashioned system to provide the bill of vendors, for that reason its take time to payment the bills and vendor take this opportunity and impose extra price on the items. Another major difficulties of old system is conflict between Procurement and Finance department, procurement department face conflict with internal audit or finance department regarding bill payment issue. Sometimes Vendor pressed procurement department regarding their payment but it is difficult to convince finance department regarding urgency. Not only that, we are fare way from the modern inventory systems.

In that case, Blockchain can pay a vital role for Hospital/Healthcare supply Chain Management.

Blockchain Solution

Blockchain, is the most advanced technology for solving he supply Chain Problem that has taken the world by storm these days. A blockchain is nothing but a modern ledger that keeps track of all transactions and activities happening throughout the advanced network.

The most attractive influence of a blockchain is that once a piece of information is added to the system, no one can change it. The information stored on a blockchain is highly secure in its entirety. In order for anyone to make a change in one block, it is mandatory to make changes to all the subsequent blocks after it.

How Blockchain Help Healthcare

Blockchain has the power to bring out a great breakthrough in the healthcare ecosystem as it can easily bring specific changes in the healthcare management of the patient as well as payable systems. With the help of this system, the power will come back to people’s hands. Meaning that individuals will be responsible for handling their own records thus, getting the overall control of their own information. The systems hold the ability to successfully improve patient care quality while maintaining the finance at a reasonable rate. All the challenges and interferences that occur in multiple level authentications can be eliminated through blockchain. With the increasing adoption rate, Blockchain has made its way to the healthcare sector. Even in its beginning stage, the technologies are being positively accepted by people in the healthcare ecosystem. The complete vision for blockchain to disrupt the healthcare sector in the coming times would be to resolve issues that afflict the current system.

Imagine a healthcare system where all the information is easily accessible by doctors, patients, pharmacists, finance department, Supply Chain Department as well as the higher management of the organization at any given time. Blockchain allows the creation and sharing of a single common database of health information.

This technology would be accessible by all the entities involved in the process no matter which electronic medical ERP systems they use. This offers higher security and transparency while allowing doctors find more time to spend on patient care and their treatment. Besides, it will also enable better sharing of statistics of researches, which, in turn, would facilitate clinical trials and treatment therapies for any rare disease.

Blockchian for healthcare payable allows multiple entities of the financial ecosystems to stay in sync and share date on a commonly distributed ledger. With this technology, anyone can see the financial information (those have permission to access the data) and control the data within the systems. Through Blockchain vendor payment can more easy and time saving as well as secure.

Blockchain Applications for Healthcare

Having explored the importance of blockchain technology in the healthcare sector along with the changes that it could bring, here are a few use cases that utilize the potential of the technology and could make the healthcare industry more accessible, secure and reliable.

Making of Health Data

Till now in Bangladesh is difficult to find proper information regarding healthcare products and services, but if we can save the patient’s healthcare information completely through the blockchain, it can be possible to create a complete database. These data will apply in different directional guidelines in the future, which can be done by many government advices. In the case of public health management, all those information cannot play a significant role only but also different health care policies in the future make on the basis of this information. Not only that, it is much easier to maintain the payable systems through blockchains, which have more accountable and transparent.

Secure Healthcare Database

The current healthcare system operates through one single central database. This database is managed by and for own use or internal use only. In this case, the point of failure also comes to one single point. In such cases, if a hacker or anti-social element attacks the system, he/she can access the overall database that is very harmful for both organization and patients.

Blockchain can be used in order to prevent the internal arrangement of an organization. A large organization with multiple independent actors having different levels of access on a blockchain ledger with encryption entrenched within the blocks will save organizations from external threats and attacks. If a blockchain network is applied correctly in a healthcare organization, it would prevent such ransom attacks as well as other issues like data corruption or hardware failure.

Medicine and Medical items Traceability

The main feature of blockchain technology that can be utilized in medicine/medical products traceability is its security. Every new transaction that is added to a block will be absolute as well as timestamped. This will make it easy to track a product and ensure that the information inside the block cannot be altered. In order to ensure the traceability and authenticity of medical drugs, pharmaceutical companies that register any specific drug/stent/implants (which is one of expensive items) on the blockchain need to be trustworthy. Therefore, the usage of private blockchains in which the control is in the hands of a central authority would make sense in such cases. When such companies are given access to the specific drug/medical items blockchain, they would have a proof that the drugs/medical items manufactured by them are authentic.

In such private blockchains, the companies have the right to choose among actors of the supply chain who will be acting, as miners are it, manufacturers, distributors or retailers. As authorized according to the position on the supply chain, every individual can have different rights or accessibility options. For example, while labs can register test reagent, the wholesalers have the permission to verify transactions. Moreover, every block containing the reagent information will have a hash attached to it which will be linked to another block. When the item moves along the supply chain among different entities, it can be easily tracked.

Moreover, the feature of data transparency in a blockchain system can help to find the complete path of origin, thus, helping in eradicating the circulation of fake drugs.

Clinical Trials & Data Security

In healthcare work, sometimes doctors need a full set of data for appropriate treatment for critical patients like previous medicine history. In addition, it is required to keep the medical data of the patients for future clinical trials as well as any legal issue. We also need to preserve this information for future research work. Blockchain, which is smarter than previous technology and cost efficient.

If Bangladesh govt. or private sector think about Health Insurance Portability, and Accountability Act has strict regulations around the privacy of a patient’s data. It requires Patient health information to be secure from breaches and modification. Despite the security regulations, patient data cannot be restricted. Healthcare being a complex system with multiple entities requires a patient to share their data and medical records across the ecosystem.

For example, the patients have to share their health-related information with the doctor as well as the providers while going for a treatment or only buying medicines. Moreover, the increase in the number of patients has caused in more and more data management by the healthcare providers. This growing data leads to difficulties in managing patient information within hospitals and clinics.

Presenting blockchain to this data-centric system determinations many issues. A blockchain system in place for patient data management would create a hash for individual patient health information blocks and a shared system would constitute a patient ID on a theoretical basis. A blockchain system would even allow patients to reveal their necessary data to third parties while keeping their identity secret. The time limit and access permissions for data sharing with third parties could also be controlled by the patients.

Conclusion

Potential of blockchain for healthcare highly depends on the acceptance of the new technology within the healthcare ecosystem in order to create technical structure. Though there are certain concerns and thoughts regarding Blockchain’s integration with current healthcare systems and its cultural acceptance, the technology is still not popular in the healthcare sector.

It has taken the healthcare industry by storm over the past year and many solutions are being developed to adopt it. With so many potential use cases and possibilities, blockchain is sure to disrupt the healthcare landscape for good.

Published on “Bangladesh Supply Chain Review” Volume 01 | Issue 12 | November 2018. An initiative of “Bangladesh Supply Chain Management Society

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