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Blockchain To Have Biggest Impact on Healthcare, Say 1/3rd of Investors

One-third of institutional investors believe that blockchain technology will have the biggest impact on the healthcare industry, according to a survey by the Global Blockchain Business Council.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- One-third of institutional investors believe that blockchain technology will have the biggest impact on the healthcare industry, according to a survey by the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) reported by IBS Intelligence.

Only 16 percent of respondents said that the use of blockchain in healthcare will “increase dramatically” over the next two years; 37 percent said it would “increase slightly,” 32 percent said it will stay the same or decrease, and 15 percent said they didn’t know.

For the survey, GBBC commissioned PollRight to poll 71 institutional investors from hedge funds, pension funds, and private equity.

Two-thirds of respondents said that blockchain will have the biggest impact on financial services and banking. One-third expect to see a “dramatic” increase in the use of this technology over this time period within financial services and banking, with a further 41 percent anticipating a slight increase.

Three-quarters of respondents said they don’t believe senior executives at large businesses are committed to blockchain, and 63 percent believe that these senior executives have a poor understanding of the blockchain technology.

“Our research suggests there is still a huge task ahead for the blockchain industry to educate senior executives at large corporations about the benefits of this new technology,” said GBBC CEO Sandra Ro.

“Despite this, investors still expect companies to invest huge amounts of money into how they can capitalise on blockchain, but they anticipate it will vary greatly between different sectors. Indeed, our research reveals that 39% of professional investors believe blockchain will do to banking what the internet did to media,” Ro added.

Blockchain can solve health IT problems

There are numerous problems in healthcare that blockchain can help solve, such as data exchange limitations, supply chain issues, and patient data use hurdles in clinical research. Blockchain’s structure provides a decentralized and secure way to exchange and track data to aid in addressing these problems.  

Deloitte and Pfizer recently published a white paper detailing the advantages of blockchain for healthcare:

  • Transparency: Data stored on the blockchain is transparent to approved users, creating a single source of truth
  • Trust: Data is linked through secure blocks that are distributed across multiple users, enabling trust between users who might not know each other
  • Disintermediation: Blockchain fulfills the role of existing intermediaries by creating an ecosystem of trust
  • Auditability: Data on the blockchain is difficult to change, creating a comprehensive audit trail

The long-term goal for healthcare blockchain is to use it to support all digital elements of a healthcare organizations because every digital device or application requires a secure and efficient means to move data or control access.

“With the advent of these novel blockchain capabilities, the healthcare industry has started to take the technology seriously,” the white paper observed.

Blockchain comes in to two types: public or permissioned. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use public blockchains. Anyone with a computer could join the community to trade currencies.

With a permissioned blockchain, participants requires appropriate permissions to become a member of the blockchain community and carry out transactions along with other members. In implementing blockchain, healthcare organizations should ask themselves who should have access to the ledger and what data will be accessible.

Blockchain members can approve transactions and confirm identities and ownership with the requirement for third-party intermediaries. All related data can be shared with other members depending on their particular roles and access privileges.

Blockchain networks often use encryption to ensure data security and privacy, which helps stop unauthorized access to transaction data and deter fraud.

“Due to its capabilities, blockchain may offer a solution to more easily aggregate health data in a secure, trusted, automated, and error-free way,” the white paper noted.

“A solution which enforces rules, privacy, and regulations in a mutually agreed upon manner, resulting in a smart-contract between patient and health care stakeholders can be an important enabler to clinical research. This can allow patients to more easily aggregate their data from different sources and share what they choose to with their physicians and researchers,” the paper concluded.

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