“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” - Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)
Blockchain technology – looks and sounds complicated doesn’t it? Well it’s a good thing that you only need to know a little bit about it to use it.
To put it simply, Blockchain technology is a peer-to-peer platform where data can be securely stored, transferred and distributed without being copied. It became popular when Cryptocurrency began to rise after the inception of Bitcoin in 2008. Bitcoin’s blockchain means that live information is shareable and secure from being duplicated or hacked.
Essentially, blockchain will be able to cut out the middleman when making transactions.
Protecting healthcare data
The storage of healthcare data is one that many companies are trying to improve. Many Australian citizens with private health insurance are becoming frustrated with the prolonged wait times for health care claims to process. When you're paying top dollar for a premium service, you can understand their discontent.
In 2018, My Health Record was created, a digital initiative created by the Australian Government. It essentially allows people to access all of their medical information online. The concept is great, but what happens if this information gets into the wrong hands?
The agency’s Annual Report 2017–18 identified that “42 data breaches (in 28 notifications) were reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)… concerning potential data security or integrity breaches”, but with “no purposeful or malicious attacks compromising the integrity or security of the My Health Record system”.
This caused 2.5 million Australians to opt out of the My Record system.
When storing data online, trust and transparency are two key factors that customers look for when choosing a product.
Blockchain technology could be the solution to combat the risks of data breaches, and speed up the process of payment transaction times without going through a middle man. The automation of transactions of claims once approved will also ensure customers aren't left out of pocket. It is also an empowering tool for patients, who can have total control over their healthcare data and who views it.
Whilst Blockchain technology is predominantly in its infancy, many companies are starting to role out their own systems.