Blockchain technology: 3 real-world examples of revolutionary innovation in the healthcare industry

By Jasmine Henry

| Healthcare

Though blockchain technology may have first achieved notoriety as a cornerstone technology for bitcoin, it is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to securely innovate around trusted transactions in multiple industries. For healthcare companies, this highly scalable approach to linked, encrypted blocks of data records offers immense potential for facilitating operations while reducing risks.

Blockchain is much more than a tool for anonymizing cryptocurrency — it’s an approach to distributed record-keeping with inherent capacities for data quality and integrity. Describing this technology as disruptive may not be fully accurate. It’s more likely foundational: a technology with the “potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems,” according to the Harvard Business Review.

Today, some of the most remarkable security and mobile innovations in the healthcare industry are fueled by new applications of blockchain technology. A recent survey of 200 global healthcare executives revealed a significant number of modern organizations are moving quickly toward implementing new applications of this technology. Sixteen percent expect to have a commercial blockchain solution at scale by the end of 2017.

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Here are three examples of real organizations that are achieving improved security, scalability and other key advantages through blockchain-backed innovation:

1. Guardtime experiments with Estonian EHR potential

Guardtime is collaborating with the Estonian eHealth Foundation to improve data security and health provider access to electronic health records (EHR) for 1 million Estonian citizens, according to Forbes. Though this partnership pushes the envelope in new approaches to data ownership and sharing, Guardtime CEO Mike Gault expressed confidence to Business Insider, stating that he believes the fact blockchain records cannot be modified after registration will be a “really powerful” tool for accurate patient records.

2. Gem and CapitalOne tackle financial inefficiencies

Bitcoin Magazine reports CapitalOne is now working with Gem Health to tackle a key issue in US healthcare operations: lengthy delays in processing payments to health providers. By reducing friction in the financial operations of health organizations, the two companies hope to tackle system-wide inefficiencies that affect all stakeholders. By assigning secure identities to payers, providers and banks, experiments with what Gem calls “Multiparty Identity and Access Management” are yielding faster transaction verification.


3. iSolve speeds lifesaving drug development

Researchers, providers, wholesalers and retailers in the pharmaceutical industry all want to speed up time-to-market for lifesaving drugs. iSolve, a platform for open innovation in this highly regulated industry, believes transparency in collaboration and partnerships can have a positive impact, according to CoinDesk. Blockchain’s ability to remove traceability barriers is a powerful lever for efficiency.

These three case studies all reveal blockchain innovation can revolutionize security, transparency, collaboration and transaction speed for organizations in healthcare and other industries. C-level executives are wise to begin moving toward adoption, all while understanding key barriers. According to Forbes, the next two years will be an important time for resolving adoption barriers to industry-wide blockchain use, including regulatory uncertainty, some lack of standards for developers and a need for validation through successful use cases.

Though the precise future of blockchain technology and its applications in healthcare remain unclear, there is little question why it shouldn’t be underestimated. This technology’s potential to create complete transparency and integrity in an organization’s operations could yield a seismic shift in healthcare organizations’ networks. Though many commercial applications are in the earliest phases, organizations that adopt blockchain to elevate their security and collaboration internally and externally are well positioned for industry disruption.

Written By

Jasmine Henry

Jasmine E. Henry, MS

Jasmine is a commentator on emerging technology and freelance writer in the greater Seattle area. With a professional background in analytics, big data, mobility, and security that spans both the for-profit and government sectors, her professional interests include artificial intelligence…

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