The healthcare industry has been facing problems for decades with antiquated security measures and lack of interoperability between different facility systems restricting the ability for the exchange of mission-critical medical information.
The pharmaceutical industry succumbs to slowdown and distrust due to the high costs of OTC pharmaceuticals that come as a result of a need to preemptively plan for the undercutting prices of parallel markets, the assurance of regulatory go-aheads, and the symbiosis of researchers and financier firms.
In May of 2017, we had the ominous reminder of how truly outdated and vulnerable certain healthcare network infrastructure can be when the WannaCry hacks temporarily disabled the computing functionality of a considerable amount of UK state-run hospitals, as well as the thousands of other networks from organizations across the globe. While these hacks were embellished in the media as a particularly devastating consequence of organizational software update neglect and improper staff training on cybersecurity, we all have become increasingly desensitized to the news headlines that have begun writing off security breaches as a daily regularity.
In 2017, there were over 60 hacks recorded in healthcare alone, which affected and compromised the data of over hundreds of millions of patients.
In healthcare especially, where a misdiagnosis or incorrect prescription can potentially be fatal, there is no room for misinterpreting the amount of damage that data corruption can cause. Cybersecurity Ventures, a major cybersecurity research and market intelligence organization, predicts global healthcare cybersecurity spending will exceed $65B cumulatively from 2017-2021. As more and more organizations are going paperless in the spirit of being cost-effective and environmentally-friendly, safety precautions such as strong network defense, strict staffing protocols, and encrypted data sharding on multiple databases are increasingly becoming necessities to ensure that a single data breach will not paralyze your operations, ruin the reputation of your organization, and put the lives of potentially thousands in danger.
Distributed ledger technology has entered the space to remedy those concerns. Whereas in some industries, auditability serves as the critical feature of distributed ledgers (proving to be a viable deterrent against internal theft), the more prioritized features for the healthcare industry are in distributed ledgers’ immutability and privacy for such delicate matters as maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of patient records. With highly-classified medical information inaccessible to hackers due to the combination of impenetrable encryption and top-down permission-granting access from the system administrator, distributed ledgers allow medical facilities to focus on saving lives and developing medical breakthroughs rather than warding off attackers.
Claims & Billing
• An estimated 5-10% of healthcare costs are fraudulent, resulting from excessive billing or billing from non-performed services.
• By automating the majority of claim adjudication and payment processing activities, distributed ledger systems could help to eliminate the need for intermediaries and reduce administrative costs and time for providers and payers.
Medical Credentialing System
• As it stands today, it takes anywhere from a couple of days to multiple weeks in order for one facility to verify the credentials of an incoming medical professional.
• Currently, medical profiles require constant maintenance to ensure that all recent certifications have been recorded by necessary facilities, and that subsequent accreditations will be reflected.
• Distributed ledger-based medical credential management systems, like the one employed by Intiva Health, will simplify the process for medical personnel transfer and medical accreditation aggregation.
Clinical Health Data Exchange & Interoperability
• Transferring medical information from one facility to another or just from within departments of one facility remains one of the biggest issues facing the healthcare industry.
• Distributed ledger-enabled health IT systems can provide technological solutions to many challenges, including health data interoperability, integrity and security, portable-user owned data and other areas.
Cybersecurity & Healthcare IoT
• Over 477 healthcare data breaches occurred last year due to IT security breaches, compromising roughly 1,682,836 documents.
• By 2020, an estimated 20-30 billion healthcare Internet-of-Medical-Things (IoMT) connected devices will be used globally.
• Distributed ledger-enabled solutions have the potential to bridge the gaps of device interoperability, while ensuring security, privacy, and reliability around IoMT devices.
Over the course of 2017, the pharmaceutical industry’s steady growth curve has been curtailed with the rise of a few major hurdles resulting from the general slowness in transitioning over to the New Health Economy. While historically the pharmaceutical industry has always required a certain level of due diligence and attention-to-detail toward ensuring the safety of its consumers, the digital age has amplified the amount of opportunities and abuses that exist for changing a previously centralized and paper-based system.
As the introduction of new economic channels have opened up the floodgates for bad actors, the industry finds itself in need of major reform as fraudulent claims leak millions from reputable companies each year whilst corruption along the industry-wide supply chain endangers the lives of consumers with counterfeit products containing lethal or placebo-level dosages. The statistics seek to justify such concerns purported by politicians, pharmaceutical companies, and humanitarian relief organizations alike. The World Health Organization cites 10-15% of the global drug supply to be counterfeit, 30% of the counterfeit drug market derived straight from Africa. Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic continues to run rampant in the US and Canada as false prescriptions to painkillers continue to kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined whilst taxpayers and insurance companies jointly continue to hemorrhage funds paying for the slew of false claims.
Yet even on the less hazardous investor and safe consumer-facing side of things, there exists high incentive for the easy and transparent exchange of authenticated drug analysis data be it for real-time R&D status updates or accessing medicinal biosimilar alternatives on a database respectively.
The scenarios are endless for where there can exist mismanagement and corruption in all parts of the supply chain, and attempts at criminal investigations and internal audits have historically been stonewalled by the different standards arising from a non-vertically-integrated and poorly surveilled international operation. Digital ledgers serve as a method for exchanging unalterable information between stakeholders’ in such a way that they will be held accountable for the information that they transmit. Whether a transnational sale or the dispersal information regarding a new medical breakthrough, the accessibility of verifiable information is a development that is critical for the health of the pharmaceutical industry.
Pharma Clinical Trials & Population Health Research
• Nearly 50% of clinical trials go unreported.
• Investigators often fail to share their study results from clinical trials (e.g. nearly 90% of trials on ClinicalTrials.gov lack results).
DISTRIBUTED LEDGER SOLUTION:
• Global researcher-accessible platform for viewing and submitting clinical research in real-time.
• DLT-enabled, timestamping accountability to combat outcome switching, data snooping, and selective reporting.
• Research data silos exist in the pharmaceutical industry, often resulting in public disinterest and dis-incentivized funding from firms.
• Conventional bureaucratic paper-pushing and rubber-stamping creates bottlenecks in clinical trials.
DISTRIBUTED LEDGER SOLUTION:
• Firm-accessible real-time R&D status updates.
• Publicly-accessible databases for clinical drug development information.
• Increased governmental visibility in clinical trial stages, resulting in expedited process.
Drug Supply Chain Tracking & Provenance
• Based on industry estimates, pharmaceutical companies incur an annual loss of $200 billion globally due to counterfeit drugs.
• About 30% of drugs sold in developing countries are considered to be counterfeit.
DISTRIBUTED LEDGER SOLUTION:
• Ensured chain-of-custody log that tracks each step of the supply chain at the individual drug/product level.
• Supplier-vetting through required upload of proper certifications onto a simple user-interfacing DLT web portal.
Compliance & Consumer Safety in Prescriptions
• Fraudulent prescriptions and opioid fatalities run rampant in the first world due to high margins on the black market and overall accessibility of OTC pharmaceuticals.
• Many pharmaceuticals that have been filed for never reach their desired market because of regulatory roadblocks.
DISTRIBUTED LEDGER SOLUTION:
• Clinic-accessible opioid database for ensuring safe, properly-sourced prescribed pharmaceuticals.
• Embedded smart-contract mechanism for assurance of compliance and legitimacy of prescription.
• Improved likelihood of market approval with enhanced government oversight.