Could blockchain reduce NHS clinical negligence claims?

Dr Amina Albeyatti of MyClinic asks whether blockchain could reduce clinical negligence claims against the NHS.

The NHS is one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Unfortunately, recent reports have shown that clinical negligence claims against the NHS are on the rise. According to the annual NHS Resolution report, the NHS paid out £2.4bn in claims last year and currently has around £4.3bn in outstanding legal fees.

“With full transparency and ownership over medical information, a patient may no longer need to chase for answers”

The rise in successful claims is having serious impacts on the NHS; the costs of these claims means money is being diverted away from vital under-funded resources, which directly impacts patients. For many patients, these claims are less about the monetary benefits but instead to seek answers as to why this happened or gain acknowledgement for their pain or suffering. Yet, many feel that the only way to get answers is by suing. However, blockchain could be the answer to reducing the number of claims.

The trust solution
Blockchain-enabled apps that hold a patient’s medical records create a more open shared system, where patients have full visibility over each and every development. With full transparency and ownership over medical information, a patient may no longer need to chase for answers.

This control over medical data also promotes improved sharing of data. A blockchain ledger stores all information chronologically and securely and is completely immutable so no data can be tampered with. So, if a patient wished to get a second opinion it would be considerably easier, as the patient can now bring their entire medical history to the meeting. Whereas currently it is very difficult to transfer all relevant documentation from one doctor to another, making it a timely and sometimes inaccurate process.

This second opinion could spot something the other doctor may have overlooked, or they could be in agreement with the original consultation and reassure the patient through their treatment process. This review can also be conducted remotely. The blockchain technology is transferable to anyone to whom a patient grants access, so patients can securely send their information to a lead consultant in the required diagnostic area, a scarce resource which may not usually be available to a patient.

Preventative action
Alongside this, patients having access to real-time data allows them the opportunity to research their diagnosis and treatment. This helps to give the patient a greater understanding of their treatment, which then empowers consent choices.
In some cases, a negligence claim cannot be avoided. However, a blockchain-enabled system could also be beneficial to the investigation, from both a patient and doctor perspective. The immutable quality of blockchain means that all data stored is accurate and untampered with, meaning it is perfect to use as factual evidence in any case.

Overall, the NHS needs to take a more preventative approach to these types of claims and properly investigate each claim to minimise the chance of a repeat. Alongside this, they need to create a more collaborative system that involves the patient in every stage, so they don’t feel they are being left in the dark.

 

Dr Amina Albeyatti is Head of Business Development for MyClinic. Go to www.myclinic.com 

 

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