Blockchain will play a pivotal role in the healthcare industry, report predicts

A new report has predicted that, even though the healthcare sector has been slow on the uptake, blockchain will play a pivotal role, creating new ways for pharmaceutical stakeholders to exchange information.

According to a new report, the healthcare sector has lagged behind others when it comes to adopting blockchain technology even though pharmaceutical and medical device companies have expressed enthusiasm about it.

Blockchain technology can potentially support the digitisation of supply chains”

The slow uptake of blockchain, says the report by GlobalData, is due to high upfront costs, outmoded legacy systems, scalability, heavy industry imposed regulations and privacy concerns.

Blockchain technology will create new ways for healthcare stakeholders to collaborate, as well as facilitate information exchange, GlobalData says. By using the technology, synchronised information can be securely stored enabling effective interoperability between healthcare organisations, while also ensuring that each party is sharing the same real-world data.

“One major issue that healthcare providers are facing is sharing information without violating privacy regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR,” said Urte Jakimaviciute, MSc, Senior Director of Healthcare Market Research. “Since blockchain can be used as an interoperability layer, it can help to link the data between disparate systems creating a transparent and secure path for patient data sharing. Blockchain-based systems can also give patients more control over their personal data, as the technology allows them to track who has access to their data and when.

“Pharma supply chain management has a lot of issues deriving from lack of modernisation and a high number of intermediaries involved. Blockchain technology can potentially support the digitisation of supply chains, overcome the middleman problem and increase transparency and efficiency.

“Companies, from manufacturers to retailers, can trace products through supply chains ensuring authenticity or flagging potential issues at any stage of the process. If a quality issue of the product is identified, blockchain can facilitate the recalls by determining the location of the faulty product within the supply chain.”

The ability to execute various transactions without a third party is regarded as the key benefit of blockchain technology, the report continued, with organisations able to manage their business without central authority involvement or control. However, this freedom comes with its own share of disadvantages such as integrity, limited storage and high development costs.

“Blockchain technology is not flawless as it comes with high implementation costs, slow transactional performance, limited storage capabilities and is unable to act as an analytics platform,” Jakimaviciute continued. “Nevertheless, the technology is an important tool for establishing an efficient, transparent and customer-focused healthcare business model based on higher degrees of accuracy and trust due to the fact that it is a tamper-proof public ledger.

“Whether hyped or not, blockchain offers higher security and transparency which is a top priority for the entire healthcare industry – from pharmaceutical companies to payers and hospitals.”