In an exciting yet increasingly noisy and crowded space, questions continue to arise around what we can do with blockchain in healthcare today.
Which blind spots should we avoid?
What is the path forward?
We keep getting these questions from investors and entrepreneurs, consumers and institutional buyers, clinicians and administrators, analysts and policy makers, among others.
Use cases keep appearing to address net-new innovation that pursues opportunities not dependent upon legacy healthcare IT, novel ways of extending the value of existing healthcare information and technology, and projects seeking to replace current technology with blockchain.
Some, but not all, blockchain projects are tied to cryptocurrency. Some issue proprietary utility tokens (i.e., digital objects that represent tradeable assets) that serve to incentivize consumers to use their services and may or may not be exchanged with other types of tokens.
All this is happening around the world.
This year, HIMSS convened a Blockchain in Healthcare Task Force to tackle these questions, which we addressed in an article published in the inaugural issue of Blockchain in Healthcare Today.
This globally minded, experience-rich and inter-disciplinary team evaluated use cases through research and deliberations reinforced by industry, technical and academic literature, and reached the following conclusions:
Nevertheless, as we shared in the conclusion of our article, “blockchain remains an emerging technology both fraught with unanticipated challenges and the promise of unrealized potential in healthcare.”
While staying mindful that we’re still at the early ideation-expedition stage of the adoption curve, what does a successful blockchain-enabled solution look like so far?
Clearly a disruptor, blockchain challenges traditional business models, operations and technologies. A “shiny-technology object” drawing tremendous attention and resources, let’s not forget that the ultimate goal is return on adoption.
We present the following call to action for anyone contemplating, or already pursuing, blockchain in healthcare:
For a deeper dive into these topics, check this article from the task force, Pragmatic, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology: Paving the Future for Healthcare.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.
Blockchain and distributed ledger technology are taking hold in healthcare as the industry learns more about the potential to improve patient care and reduce costs. Better understand the basics and the potential application of blockchain in healthcare with our Blockchain in Healthcare Guide.
Originally published April 3, 2018, updated October 20, 2018