Dentistry and the blockchain - A detailed overview

Updated: Nov 8



What is blockchain?


Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta, two mathematicians and physicists who wanted to implement a system where document timestamps could not be altered, first proposed the blockchain in 1991.


Simply put, a distributed digital ledger that stores any type of data is what the blockchain is. The name is derived from the way that records are linked together to form "chains," or individual records known as blocks.


Many dentists mistakenly believe blockchain is an orthodontic device for treating malocclusion when you mention it.


This means that the most recent block to be added to the chain references the data found in the block before it, which in turn references the data found in the block before that, and so on. The record is made permanent and unchangeable by this proof of the order in which information is added to the chain. For validity and reliability, this has significant ramifications.


What is it used for?


Blockchain is currently used most frequently for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. A blockchain keeps track of all cryptocurrency purchases, exchanges, and expenditures. As a result, the transaction is documented in a clear and transparent manner.


The ownership of many different assets can be tracked using blockchain, and ownership can be transferred as well. NFTs (non-fungible tokens), a symbol of ownership for digital art and videos, are currently very popular with digital assets.


This can be demonstrated in practice by dentists who record clinical images or videos. They can demonstrate ownership of their work using the blockchain.


As evidence of promoting data integrity and compliant data exchange in clinical trial contexts, a number of companies are starting to conduct medical research using the blockchain. The blockchain will be used more frequently in dental research and clinical trials in the future. The gold standard will eventually be reached with it.


How can this help my dental practice and patients?


At the moment, the primary advantage of blockchain technology is that it enables patients to pay with cryptocurrencies. It is very convenient for both the patient and the dental office for these transactions to be completed immediately and digitally, almost instantly.


Patients can pay instantly, without bank fees, and from anywhere worldwide. Cryptocurrencies avoid potential problems with credit card declines or chargebacks as well as the need to wait several days for a payment to clear (as is the case currently with credit and debit card transactions).


Dental offices are required to maintain the confidentiality of patient information under The Data Protection Act. The majority of practices currently use common encryption technology to protect patient information. Unfortunately, it is possible to get around the encryptions, which puts users' personal data at risk.


Digital patient records are virtually impossible to alter or tamper with because blockchain systems are protected by cryptography.


Due to the fact that the information is kept on a centralized server, patients who need copies of their records must speak with their dentist. As a result, it frequently presents challenges for patients who want to send their X-rays or dental records to another dental office.


The conversion to transfer records from one practice to another is also challenging because dental practices use a variety of software brands. With the aid of blockchain technology, patients now have custody of their dental records instead of a dentist's office.


Patients will eventually be able to quickly access their dental records through safe app-based systems thanks to this. Better patient outcomes will ultimately result from the ability to make dental records easily accessible to patients.