Slow and steady: blockchain’s implementation into the healthcare industry

blockchain abstract

GlobalData’s latest report, titled Blockchain in Healthcare, reveals that blockchain is set to play a pivotal role in the healthcare industry, but a range of factors are preventing it from being quickly adopted

While blockchain technology brings with it the ability to entirely transform the healthcare ecosystem – creating new ways for healthcare stakeholders to collaborate and facilitating information exchange – key factors such as high upfront costs, outmoded legacy systems, scalability, heavy industry imposed regulations and privacy concerns present barriers to its implementation.

Senior Director of Healthcare Market Research Urte Jakimaviciute said: “One major issue that healthcare providers are facing is sharing information without violating privacy regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR. 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.”

Jakimaviciute added that 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.”

Indeed, GlobalData notes that blockchain’s ability to execute various transactions without a third party is arguably it’s most beneficial feature – it allows organisations to manage their business without central authority involvement or control. On the other hand, however, this does also mean 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. 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,” commented Jakimaviciute. “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.”