Based on a review of the literature in recent years, we believe that so far, no review papers have comprehensively classified blockchain technology in healthcare applications. To address this shortcoming, our goal is to provide readers with the technical background of various blockchain-based healthcare applications, with a focus on the latest developments and achievements in this field. This article has conducted extensive technical research on the latest blockchain technologies deployed in the medical field, and analyzed their advantages and disadvantages. This article also discusses current research challenges, unresolved issues, and research prospects in each healthcare application area.
The rapid spread of digitization in the medical and health field has resulted in a large number of electronic medical records about patients. The growth of patient medical data raises the need for medical data protection when using and exchanging data.
Blockchain technology, as a transparent data storage and decentralized data distribution mechanism, has laid the foundation for solving data privacy, security and integrity issues in healthcare.
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In the past few years, blockchain technology has attracted great attention from industry and academia. Indeed, new blockchain applications and research surface every day.
Blockchain technology is considered a distributed ledger technology for electronic cash transactions on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, which can be distributed to all users publicly or privately, allowing any type of data to be stored in a reliable and verifiable manner.
Another major concept of the blockchain is smart contracts, which is a legally binding policy consisting of a set of customizable rules under which different parties agree to adopt a decentralized, automated form Interact with each other.
Blockchain technology has produced numerous applications in multiple areas of energy, financial services, voting, and healthcare. One of the potential application areas of blockchain technology is healthcare.
Blockchain can solve problems related to data security, privacy, sharing and storage in the field of healthcare. One of the requirements of the healthcare industry is interoperability. This is the ability of both parties (whether human or machine) to accurately, efficiently and consistently exchange data or information.
The goal of healthcare interoperability is to facilitate the exchange of health-related information, such as electronic health records (EHR), between healthcare providers and patients so that data can be shared across the environment and distributed by different hospital systems.
In addition, interoperability allows providers to securely share patient medical records (with patient consent), regardless of the provider's location and the trust relationship between them.
This is particularly important given the diverse sources of medical data. This aspect of interoperability is addressed through the use of blockchain technology, which shows the potential for secure storage, management and sharing of EHR between the medical community.
In addition, the rising cost of healthcare infrastructure and software in the industry has also put tremendous pressure on the world economy. In the field of healthcare, blockchain technology is actively affecting companies and stakeholders to optimize business processes, improve the effectiveness of patient care, patient data management, enhance compliance, reduce costs and make better use of healthcare-related data.
Equally important is the ability of blockchain technology to influence medicines and medical devices in a long-term and complex healthcare supply chain. The blockchain in the healthcare supply chain is expected to eliminate the risk of counterfeit medicines that harm patients worldwide. Blockchain technologies are currently being explored in various healthcare applications, such as data management, storage, device connectivity, and security in the Medical Internet of Things (IoMT).
The technical advantages provided by blockchain technology in the above application areas have a positive impact on the quality of experience (QoE) of most stakeholders and end users including patients, caregivers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies . The ability to share healthcare data without compromising user privacy and data security is one of the important steps to making healthcare systems smarter and improving the quality of healthcare services and user experience.