How and why blockchain technology will transform healthcare Part 1

Introduction. Big data vs long data.


According to a report called “Healthcare Rallies For Blockchain,” 16% of healthcare executives that IBM surveyed for the report were planning to have a commercial blockchain solution working in their business by the end of 2017.

The reason for this is very simple: while many people expect the medical field to be at the edge of transformative innovation, many parts of the field are still functioning in the same way they were functioning several decades ago, including such as important part of the field as record keeping. Because often record keeping in the medical field is often done in the same way it has been done for many years, records are prone to a huge human errors.

This is the reason why, according to an article from on February 22, 2018, medical errors are the third leading cause of deaths in the United States, the cause of deaths surpassed only by cancer and heart attacks. The CNBC article quotes a study by John Hopkins university, which claims that in the United States over two hundred and fifty thousand people die from medical errors annually, which is more than the number of people who die in unintentional accidents (145,000 per year) such as poisoning, car accidents and unintentional falls, strokes, or diabetes.

Experts also say that computer issues, mix-ups of types and doses of medication are a significant factor in how and why patients in the medical system develop complications. When a patient is in a hospital, he or she typically receives care from a number of care providers. There would typically be one doctor during day shift and a different doctor at night. Nurses also have various shifts and may switch often.

In all the instances record-keeping is absolutely critical. A doctor or a nurse that starts a new shift absolutely needs to know what has been happening with the patient in the past, yet the bigger the hospital, the more complex the medical condition and the more people caring for a person, the bigger the room for error.


Big data vs long data 

“Big data” has been a buzz world in the field of technology for quite some time. Big data means large volumes of data such as volumes of searches on search engines, and usage data from some of the biggest online platforms including Facebook, Amazon, and others. Today, companies are looking to analyze big data to find patterns they were not about in the past. Size is just one of parameters about big data. Another parameter is the speed at which the volume of data is increasing. Large sets of data are something people had to work with in the past, too. What makes data different today from the data of the past is the speed with which the volume of such data is increasing.

Today, many companies are using big data in combination with artificial intelligence to try and predict the future. However, this doesn’t mean that the data about past and present events contains any certain information about the future and anyone who does say so is probably in the business of selling some kind of predictive solution.

Predictions about the future that use big data analyze the data they have access to and then extrapolate this data on the future events. However, with such extrapolations and predictions there are always probabilities of getting things right and getting things wrong. The more data a company has and the higher the relevance of the data, the higher the probability of the right predictions, but the reality is that probability-based predictions are still predictions.

In addition to “big data,” there is also a term that describes data such as healthcare data, where there is a profile and then a lot of records associated with the profile. The term for this data is “long data.”

In the medical field, it is extremely valuable for all kinds of organizations and for patients themselves to have full history of health with all the related records, prescriptions, and notes by doctors.

Storing long data is what a blockchain network can do extremely well, which is exactly why blockchain technology will transform the healthcare industry.

Just like anyone can check the data about Bitcoin transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain in real time, on a healthcare blockchain a selected group of individuals and organizations could have access to real-time data about patients.