Is Blockchain Just Another Buzzword or Can It Transform Healthcare?

Tamara StClaire, PhD, MBA | HIMSS17 | January 30, 2017

Overall, blockchain may be healthcare’s chance at a mulligan.

If you follow technology in healthcare, you have likely heard of blockchain. But even if you are aware of the platform, it may not have truly hit your radar as possibly having near term impact. In fact Gartner puts blockchain at the peak of inflated expectations – speculating it will be another 5 to 10 years before it reaches mainstream adoption. However, there are a number of stakeholders that are working to defy Gartner’s predictions by putting blockchain into commercial use within the year.

For those of you new to blockchain or wanting an update, blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger of online exchanges. It creates a log of events that are unchangeable – preserving data integrity and security throughout the transaction. Blockchain relies on established cryptographic techniques to allow each participant in a network to interact without preexisting trust between the parties. It emerged in 2009 as the foundational trading platform for bitcoin. That’s a mouthful, so let’s move to what the technology can do.

One possible reason that some parts of our industry are ignoring the clamor is that there’s lots of talk about the platform and perhaps not enough talk about the problems it can solve. Most experts agree the following healthcare challenges can be resolved via blockchain: Master Patient Identifier - the very nature of blockchain incorporates the equivalent of an MPI. It uses private and public identifiers to create a singular, secure method for ensuring and protecting a patient’s digital identity...