Blockchain For Healthcare is an 'Enabler', Not a 'Stand-Alone' Technology

  • Blockchain technology is being explored by healthcare experts to better secure sensitive information.
  • Document authentication and identity verification are currently the few use cases that blockchains of today can effectively be used for.

Datafloq, an online resource for information on Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain technology, recently published a blog post titled: “Corporate Cybersecurity: Is Your Business Data Secure?” The article’s author, Andrew Deen, who’s a consultant and speaker on emerging technologies, wrote that healthcare providers could use distributed ledger technology (DLT) to help them store patient data more securely.

Permissioned Blockchains

A blockchain-based hospital data management system may be implemented in a manner that would only allow “authorized users who possess a unique identifier” (private, permissioned blockchains) to access and make changes, or updates, to patient information.

As explained by Deen, such an implementation would ensure that the “data is never deleted”, thus “providing a tamper-proof audit chain.” According to Christian Lanng, the co-founder and CEO of Tradeshift, a digital invoicing service provider, there are very limited use cases for blockchain technology that exists today.

Civic, Factom, Docademic

Some of these use cases include identity verification (a service provided by Civic Secure Identity Ecosystem) and document authentication (being developed by creators of the Factom Protocol).

Because managing a hospital or any healthcare provider’s sensitive documents (patient information, doctor’s notes, credentials) requires that the information be maintained accurately, it may be worth exploring how blockchain technology could be used to improve this process.

Docademic, a blockchain-based healthcare platform, is currently being developed and it will reportedly allow “interested parties to interchange valuable data between them in exchange of a token that is used to acquire services or products.”

According to Docademic’s developers, they plan to leverage blockchain technology to create a “trustful repository for health-related information.”

An "Enabling" Technology, Not A "Stand-Alone" Solution 

Although professionals from many different industries have been eager to get involved with blockchain, it cannot be applied effectively to improve all types of workflows or business processes.

Paul Quigley, the CEO of BlocLab Enterprises, a healthcare system being developed using DLT, IoT, and smart contracts, recently clarified that blockchain is “not a standalone technology.” Quigley’s comments came during a panel discussion (on September 22nd) at Becker's Health IT and Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago.

Quigley explained that “blockchain is an enabling technology, not a technology that stands on its own." While this may seem obvious, the excessive hype created by numerous people and organizations has led to confusion and a general misunderstanding of what blockchain technology is actually capable of doing.