Simply put, a blockchain is a distributed database. Because it is distributed—potentially among thousands of users—there is no central, controlling entity. This distribution model ensures the integrity of the database by requiring any new data to be verified and accepted by the network of all who possess a copy. If the new data is incorrect, fraudulent or unverifiable, it will be rejected. The name comes from the basics of how the database is written: new records are added to a block (e.g., 10 records equals one block) which is then added to the existing “chain” of blocks that have already been recorded.
A well-known application of blockchain technology is obviously Bitcoin, which uses a public blockchain ledger as the basis for a cryptocurrency. Any sector that keeps a large amount of data that requires strict validation control, though, can benefit from the use of a blockchain. That means that it can be an added value in the healthcare sector.
Take the example of managing patients’ data: if you can keep track of all medical data relating to the health of a person, you could prevent so many misunderstandings. There are so many entities (e.g., pharmacies, doctors, surgeons, health insurers) that need this information—and need it to be correct—to be able to help the patient in a proper way.
This also gives the patients more control over and insight into their own data by giving them access to their very own database. Certainly in this era of ever-increasing consumer data protection regulations, it is more and more important that there is transparency toward your patients.
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