I see you had the same doubts as me when I was participating in a competition, in which we had to make our product on top of the blockchain. So me and couple of my friends(also my team-mates) started brainstorming. We categorised our concepts into different sectors and then shortlisted from those ideas on board. After a lot of discussions, we decided to go with the healthcare idea. So the points on which we argued and the 'concept' we proposed in the finals are given below.
The idea was Organ transfer via blockchain. It was a very thorny problem statement, owing to the challenges that are faced (more on this below), it was worth a try. I can share the link to the concept page on the competition's website, but it's not needed.
In medical scenarios, the data has to be kept confidential because of numerous reasons. But this is created a whole lot of mess in the system. The hospitals were not willing to share data with other hospitals, and even the patients are reserved on this(the reason being sometimes the patient didn't even want their family members to know about their condition). Organ transfer in my country(India) doesn't have a centralised authority, what I mean by no centralised authority is each hospital is in-charge of the whole process ranging from a patient to whom the organ goes to convince the family members to donate the organs. This created a bigger problem because a patient would have to register in multiple hospitals to increase his/her chances of getting an organ.
As the data was not shared this created a duplication of data which were entirely isolated. The problem associated with this is best explained by using an example of wannacry, so this virus brought the entire medical system to a stand still for the UK more in the article.
Now as the data is distributed over the entire globe it is
- free from any virus attack
- It provides the data to be shared and more effective communication between the stakeholders. (Design the smart contracts with care)
- no one owns the data. We designed our smart contracts such that only hospitals were able to see the data of all the patients.
- The patient gets involved in the process, and if there is any cheating, any required action can be taken by retrieving the data from the older blocks.
So all the challenges which I have mentioned were told to me by hospital administration. I haven't made them up. Now answering your question directly,
How can one use blockchains in healthcare applications, if at
So this technology is new because people have only recently released its potential. Most of the use cases are in the financial sector, the reason being most of the investors are interested in that. Healthcare has seen some use cases in this recent past, but they are mostly prototypes and haven't seen the market, which is the reason, i think you had the question in the first place. Here I think it's the right time to introduce this article on blockchain and healtcare
The data remains a problem when it comes to blockchain, but we should find solutions and solve this and not just take a u-turn and blame the technology for it.
If there is any question leave a comment I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge.