Because blockchain maximizes security and accessibility, the technology can be used in many different areas of the mental healthcare system, such as for storing and sharing medical records and insurance information.
Fred Ehrsam once said, “While it may seem scarier in the earlier days, I think ultimately the blockchain creates a safer world.” Yes, that is very true. The blockchain as a metatechnology has opened up a myriad of possibilities across society. Use cases are abundant and diverse from banking institutions to restaurants to mental health organizations. Before digging deep into the topic let me first introduce you the blockchain technology itself.
What is Blockchain?
In simplest words, blockchain can be defined as a chain of blocks that contain certain information. What type a chain is, depends upon the type of information stored in its blocks. For example, the blockchain for mental health may contain information on mental disorders, their symptoms, preferred medicines, and suggested therapies for it.
The first block is called genesis in the blockchain. Each block must contain three things in it i.e. hash, previous hash, and data. Each new block in the chain is linked with the previous block in the chain through a unique identity i.e. hash. So, one can transverse from the last block in the chain to the genesis of the chain by tracking these hash identities. The tampering of the data inside the block causes the modification of the hash, too. The slightest change in the hash would alter the hash identity which will cause the break in the chain. So we can say once the data is recorded inside the blockchain it becomes almost impossible to tamper with it hence it aspires to be the safest transaction system in the world.
In order to successfully alter the data, the hackers must make it foolproof by changing the hash identities of all blocks in the chain. This may require the hackers to contain information of almost 50% of peers in the network.
Implications of Blockchain in Mental Healthcare System
In 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recognized multiple attempts to breach the records of as much as 13 million healthcare systems. The American researchers have found out that the healthcare sector has the highest per capita cost of data breaches. Moreover, the patients do not have full access to their own medical data. That is where blockchain technology comes into the picture.
- Blockchain Technology: A Security Haven
Blockchain technology makes mental patients’ data more secure than ever. The decentralized data storage enables the patients to access the records of mental healthcare organizations, thus getting accurate information by eliminating the third parties altogether. This one implication has unstoppable individual and collective fruitful repercussions. The access to the record of mental health organizations’ data will allow the patients and mental health practitioners to recognize the patterns in mental health problems and contribute towards discovering potential remedies and solutions to the problems. As rightly mentioned by Sergey Golubev, “These technologies are now relevant as never before, not just to business and the economy but the future of public health and the safety of global populations.”
- Destigmatizing Mental Problems
The stigma attached to mental health problems causes many patients to not seek mental treatment which catalyzes the mental suffering worse. The information about stigmatized mental health problems can promote them to enhance their knowledge about the coping mechanisms of the mental health problems, no one talks about in their vicinity or they do not seek medication for it.
- Diagnostic Accuracy
The prominent gist of blockchain technology is to provide accurate that can contribute toward making this world a better living place. The accurate data is a harbinger of the diagnostic accuracy in mental problems. With the diagnostic accuracy for cognitive disorders at 60%, depression at 50%, and anxiety disorders at 46%, there is a large gap to be filled in this area, and blockchain technology has tapped into the potential to fill that gap. That is simply marvelous!
Because blockchain maximizes security and accessibility, the technology can be used in many different areas of the mental healthcare system, such as for storing and sharing medical records and insurance information both in mental healthcare venues and in mobile applications and remote monitoring systems, and for clinical trials. Research about blockchain’s applications to mental healthcare is currently limited, but more research becomes available every day.