Blockchain the answer to many problems?

As if there wasn’t already enough change in Healthcare with an ever-growing series of initiatives for all organization to address, from artificial intelligence, IoT, cybersecurity, disaster preparedness and the patient experience to name just a few, and now there’s this Blockchain entity that could take priority over all of them. Let’s explore it.

What is Blockchain?

First and foremost, it’s not Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the Cryptocurrency that is threatening to change the way monies are transacted on a global basis, and a currency that is as divisive of a topic as that of the nuclear threat posed by N. Korea.

Blockchain is the ledger based technology behind Bitcoin (think TCP/IP and its enabling of the Internet), it is far from divisive but is certainly going to be disruptive. Its use is most talked about in Financial Services, likely because of its Bitcoin affiliation, but it’s impact will be far broader than that one industry. It’s likely to change the way organizations, states and governments transact over the next several years on a scale never seen before.

Blockchains are distributed systems that log transactions on a series of linked blocks and store them on an encrypted digital ledger. The key is distributed, where there is no one central administrator, and therefore it has unprecedented security benefits because records are spread across a network of replicated databases that are always in sync. Users can only update the block they have the key to access, and then those updates get replicated across the Blockchain network. All entries are time and date stamped for even greater security and auditability. It’s not foolproof, I don’t believe anything is, but it’s close and will become more so based on wider adoption and advancements.

Where to use it?

As already mentioned it’s use cases are numerous and growing daily. The overall concept for Blockchain to be an effective disruptor in healthcare would be to solve many issues that currently plague the industry; the need to create a common database of patient health information that doctors and providers could access regardless of EMR platform in use (likely to receive serious opposition from the EMR goliaths); higher levels of security and privacy innate to Blockchain; diminished opportunity for errors in delivering patient care, especially out-of-network; and even better sharing of research results, through Blockchain mining, to facilitate advancements in pharma intent on attacking life-changing disease.

The opportunities are endless…..