The ongoing trends towards digital democratisation of care delivery models and more personalised treatments will spur on the adoption of blockchain by the healthcare industry.
Research from Frost & Sullivan predicts that the next five to 10 years will see the emergence of a ‘blockchain ecosystem with healthcare-focused use cases’ centred around the following areas:
- health data exchanges
- smart assets management
- insurance and payment solution
The company also predicts that blockchain will converge with parallel developments in AI, machine learning, mHealth and IoT.
mHealth, or mobile heath, refers to the increasing use of mobile phones, wearables and other wireless devices in the provision of healthcare services or to collect data or provide informative content.
The ‘Internet of Medical Things’ refers to the growing infrastructure of connected devices and software applications that are capable of communicating with various healthcare software systems.
According to Frost & Sullivan, blockchain could be foundational in the creation of a shared platform that ‘decentralises healthcare interactions ensuring access control, authenticity and intetegrity’.
Transformational Health Industry Analyst Kamaljit Behera said:
“Burgeoning connected health devices and the need to protect against data breaches make blockchain, with its ubiquitous security infrastructure, the obvious foundation for emerging digital health workflows and advanced healthcare interoperability.
“It creates an additional trust layer through unique distributed network consensus that uses cryptography techniques to minimize cyber threats.”
‘Potential to save billions of dollars’
While blockchain is not a silver bullet solution that will solve all of the healthcare industry’s woes when it comes to efficient data management, analysis and security, the report states that the tech could save billions of dollars.
Of course, some use cases will be harder to implement than others.
The report ranks utilising blockchain for claims adjudication and billing management and increasing drug supply chain integrity as being on the easier side of the implementation spectrum. Using it to improve care coordination through access to health records, managing patient identity or secure storage of user generated data are ranked as being much harder to implement.
“The healthcare industry needs to establish blockchain consortia to facilitate partnerships and create standards for future implementation on a large scale across healthcare use cases.
“A blockchain-based system will enable unprecedented collaboration, bolstering innovation in medical research and the execution of larger healthcare concepts such as precision medicine and population health management.”