Blockchain technology has a place in any commercial network that is strongly motivated to avoid allowing a single central party to coordinate and approve transactions within the network. While the technicality of blockchain has a steep learning curve, there is tremendous potential in blockchain’s application across the healthcare space, well beyond the financial industry. While the perfect application of blockchain seems futuristic, some pilot projects are ongoing. Here are the top trends of blockchain usage in healthcare in 2020.
Increasing blockchain usage cases on healthcare supply chains
Blockchain technology will have a bigger role to play in supporting the digitisation of supply chains, as well as increasing transparency and efficiency. Healthcare organizations, from manufacturers to retailers, can trace products through supply chains to ensure authenticity or flag potentially damaging in-transit events, such as signs of tampering, extreme environmental conditions, or careless handling. If a manufacturer identifies a quality issue with a device or drug, blockchain can help vendors expedite recalls by quickly determining the location of any inventory across the supply chain that needs to be kept out of circulation.
The FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) is intended to increase regulatory oversight of counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful drugs. Some pilot projects under the DSCSA test how blockchain can secure information sharing across healthcare enterprises. For example, KPMG, IBM, Merck, and Walmart have been chosen for a pilot program that will explore using blockchain technology to improve the security of prescription drug supply and distribution. More companies started implementing blockchain technology in response to DSCSA. Genentech, a subdivision of the Roche Group, Pfizer, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen are working with the blockchain start-up MediLedger Project, which is in the process of creating a platform that allows manufacturers to track their products along with secure supply chain data, and demonstrate adherence to the DSCSA.
Closer integration with other IT innovation
IT innovation such as artificial intelligence (AI), hybrid Cloud solutions, and blockchain implementations will be considered as supplemental technologies that can speed-up the adoption of new technologies. The new hybrid Cloud-at-customer solutions provide highly scalable public Cloud applications and services while keeping personal healthcare data behind enterprise firewalls to conform to regulatory requirements. The use of AI goes beyond traditional analytics, as it aggregates and then extracts insights by recognizing patterns and correlations across large volumes of data that are stored on hybrid clouds and safely organized on blockchain platforms. By being integrated into many Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices and wearables, blockchain has the potential to uncover demographic trends, accelerate R&D in the healthcare industry, and ultimately improve patient outcomes in the near future.
Faster growth in emerging markets
Emerging economies are very pro-blockchain and will increase investment in 2020. More manufacturing-oriented countries, particularly in Asia, stand to benefit from the implementation of blockchain. The Chinese government has positioned itself to dominate the blockchain space with the most patents related to blockchain. The Chinese State Council included blockchain development in the nation’s 13th Five-Year Plan. In 2019, president of China Xi Jinping said blockchain will play a major role in building China’s strength in cyberspace, developing the digital economy, and advancing economic and social development. In addition, more countries will establish blockchain-based healthcare systems. Estonia has become the first country to use blockchain for healthcare on a national scale.
Following Estonia, in 2018, the UAE set out an ambitious plan to use blockchain technology to improve different aspects of the lives of its citizens, such as banking, transportation, and healthcare. The initiative set the country on a path to become a fully functional blockchain-based government by 2021. The healthcare platform provides a data-sharing solution that enables health professionals, including doctors, pharmacists, technicians, and local licensing health authorities, to save and share the assessment information.