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Opportunities for blockchain in Pharma and Healthcare.

Blockchain

The health and drugs industry keeps an important amount of critical and private information like health data and financial records.

One of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Merck and Co., was the latest victim of a malicious software attack, which asks for ransom in order not to publish data or not to allow access to files until the ransom is paid. The same attack also went after the rest of the medical industry. Another victim was Heritage Valle Health, which manages a few hospitals, which lead to surgeries being canceled and emergency services being damaged. The ransomware attacks were part of Petya, which encrypts data and systems in a network. The attackers ask for ransom in order to decrypt the files.

The medical industry lures criminals because it holds important and critical information as well as financial details that are important to the healthcare world. The already existing security networks in medical and pharmaceutical companies seem outdated compared to the new security risks. Basically, ransomware attacks, destroy an organization without having to transport a lot of files; but that is what conventional security systems are designed to protect.

One of the most useful weapons to fight cyber-attacks is the blockchain, which is lately being used by technology and financial firms. Apart from offering protection against cyber-attacks, the blockchain helps costs to be reduced around several industries. During 2015 a report was issued mentioning that blockchain could reduce the banks’ structural costs by USD 15-20 billion per year by 2022. The conclusion for medical and pharmaceutical industries is this: use blockchain if higher security is required, and also to lower costs and have a more efficient structure.

The blockchain is a database, which saves and keeps the history of transactions and files. Each file is called a time-stamp block that is connected to the previous block and they form a chain. When a transaction is requested, it is sent on a peer-to-peer network for identification. Then the validated transaction combined with other transactions forms a new block of files.

The difference between conventional databases which are centrally located is that blockchain is spread over the networks making it simple to share data across different networks.

The medical industry is looking into using the blockchain to redesign business models especially when it comes to information exchange where there is a higher risk. The major issues that can be eliminated when using the blockchain are:

–        Incompatible data and systems; blockchain helps updating data files such as health and medical records at the same time across the networks.

–        Different rules and permissions make access to date complicated; the distributed network permits consistent methods for accessing files.

–        Incompetency due to different patient identifiers between systems; patient files can be protected using an MPI through a distributed system.

The blockchain provides a trusted network, reduces transaction costs, improves speed and makes access to medical data easier.

Exchanging data files in the medical sector is very common and frequent using different platforms. The unprotected feature of healthcare information exchange, the lack of ability to protect medical information as well as personal identifiers caused privacy and security risks.

The blockchain is the technology of the future. Among the sectors that have adopted it are, finance, technology, pharmaceutical and medical organizations; they are using blockchain in order to reduce cyber attacks, save and manage data securely.

 

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