Real-World Healthcare Applications of Blockchain

By CIOReview | Friday, March 23, 2018
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At the "Blockchain 4 Healthcare: Fit for Purpose?" session of HIMSS18 in Las Vegas, experts conveyed the revolutionary and attainable the potential advantages of a distributed ledger technology for healthcare are.

IEEE is already working on advancing the number of blockchain uses in domains such as health records management by self, clinical trial recruitment, pharma and medical device supply chain management, AI and machine learning, IoT, and more.

As per Tim Mckay, the director of Global Health Policy Institute at the UC, San Diego, blockchain can better guarantee the traceability, management, pliability, and provenance of healthcare data. The blockchain is already contributing to patient safety, pharmacovigilance, and precision medicine. By utilizing EHRs blockchain can ease patient matching and monitoring. With "smart contracts" blockchain can ensure maintenance and tamper-proof device logs.

According to Robert Barkovich, the CEO of Health Linkages, manipulation or falsification of data will not be possible in a blockchain-based system due to the mathematical verification of data integrity.

Prospective users of blockchain require information about the technology's various frameworks such as centralized, decentralized and distributed; public, private, hybrid, and permissioned. Barkovich cites the popular examples of Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains. Examples of Hyperledger projects are Fabric (IBM) and Sawtooth Lake (Intel), which are open source and run by Linux.

Selection of the right blockchain for you is best preceded by understanding the problem you wish to solve along with your requirements, followed by an assessment of the pros and cons of the blockchain frameworks available to you. As Barkovich rightly puts it, "For developing and exploring new projects use trial and error; it's best to find a blockchain framework that does fit rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole."