Blockchain: Will It Help HealthCare Curb Prescription Drug Abuse
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Blockchain: Will It Help HealthCare Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

Feb 19 2018

Blockchain: Will It Help HealthCare Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

Blockchain is being promoted as  the next frontier in healthcare that will solve some of the industry’s challenges. So what exactly is this technology?

 

blockchain

 

 

Blockchain technology is a permanent record of online transactions or exchanges. It started in 2009 as the foundation for trading the digital currency bitcoin.

An entered record can be shared among a network of computers, and network users can add to the record of transactions. Instead of a database that is centrally located and manages records, the blockchain database is distributed to the networks. Transactions are kept secure via cryptography, and transactions have to be verified by the network in a process called mining.

Each transaction can be thought of as a block, and the ledger that links them together can be thought of as the chain.

Most important, since users’ transactions are directly added to this ledger, it eliminates the need for a middleman with their own ledger.

Blocks are linked together in the chain through a process called mining, which turns pending transactions into a mathematical puzzle. People, called miners, have to solve the puzzle (typically using computer systems) and produce what is called a hash, a sequence of letters and numbers unique to the block. A block’s hash is developed using the hash of the previous block, therefore ensuring that every block is valid.

Because each block’s hash is produced using the hash of the block before it, it becomes a digital version of a wax seal. It confirms that this block,  and every block after it, is legitimate. Any attempt at data tampering is immediately flagged and eliminated.

 

Blockchain: What It Means For Healthcare

Blockchain technology is being adapted since last year by healthcare companies on a rapid scale.

It connects all network users and guarantees that all pieces of information have been verified. It allows participants to move data in real-time, without the need for reconciliation. Blockchain with its secure cryptology interface guarantees accuracy and protects against theft and forgery.

 

Blockchain: Blocks Prescription Drug Abuse

The UN estimates that there are 29.5 million people around the world with drug use disorders.

Most of the drug problem is found in average homes where people are getting their fix from legal medication . These pills are prescribed by doctors and picked up at patients neighborhood drug stores.

Painkillers, alongside sleeping pills and anxiety medication, are among the most abused legal substances. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 42,000 deaths from opioid overdose were recorded in 2016 in the US. The youth are the most at risk. Prevalence of misuse is highest among Americans aged 12 to 25.

Many abusers start by experimenting with medication available at homes. Often, these substances serve as gateway drugs that lead users to explore more dangerous ones later on. Eventually, they tend to try out pills with stronger mind-altering effects.

Addiction can prompt them to commit prescription fraud. Some attempt to con doctors to get legitimate prescriptions or have pharmacies fulfill fake prescriptions.

Painkillers, alongside sleeping pills and anxiety medication, are among the most abused legal substances. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 42,000 deaths from opioid overdose were recorded in 2016 in the US. The youth are the most at risk. Prevalence of misuse is highest among Americans aged 12 to 25.

Many abusers start by experimenting with medication available at homes. Often, these substances serve as gateway drugs that lead users to explore more dangerous ones later on. Eventually, they tend to try out pills with stronger mind-altering effects.

Addiction can prompt them to commit prescription fraud. Some attempt to con doctors to get legitimate prescriptions or have pharmacies fulfill fake prescriptions.

 

BlockChain: Curbing Prescription Fraud

The healthcare industry is using blockchain to solves this problem. Projects such as MediLedger and BlockMedx are are leveraging blockchain technology to provide security and transparency to pharmaceutical supply chains.

Blockchain startup BlockMedx has been working on an end-to-end prescription platform using the Ethereum blockchain. The platform uses a clever system that uses crypto tokens to facilitate transactions. Prescriptions that are transmitted using the platform can be verified together with the physician and patient’s details. Doctors will be able to explore their own prescription history and even revoke prescriptions if they believe something is amiss. Pharmacies could also ensure that they will be fulfilling legitimate prescriptions.

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Barry G
barry@skycaremedia.com

Barry graduated from City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology.

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