Blockchain technology possesses the power to revolutionize companies, industries, and government agencies across the globe. Adoption can take a lot of time and effort as the learning curve is steep, however, the advantages of blockchain far outweigh its drawbacks. Research firm IDC, among others, predicts vast growth, expecting worldwide blockchain-related spending to hit $9.7 billion in 2021, up from around $2 billion in 2018.
It may come as no surprise that blockchain has a number of characteristics that make it surpass traditional databases. Information is shared on a peer-to-peer network in a reliable, trustworthy and efficient manner. Updated in real-time across a network of computers, data can’t be altered only added, and doesn’t require a central authority to coordinate or approve a transaction.
And there are great possibilities for what the technology could achieve in the healthcare space in 2020.
The digitization of healthcare supply chains
As blockchain technology plays a bigger role in the digitization of supply chains it's set to increase transparency and productivity— and in the healthcare sector, that's priceless. The technology allows products and medications to be traced through supply chains safeguarding authenticity and signaling any adverse in-transit events while making the recall process more efficient. Blockchain becomes particularly important as the FDA's Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) increases regulatory oversight of counterfeit, stolen, contaminated as well as otherwise harmful drugs.
One pilot project under the DSCSA test explores using blockchain to improve the security of prescription drug supply and distribution. Companies are also implementing the technology in response to the DSCSA including Genentech, who together with blockchain startup, MediLedger Project is creating a platform to empower manufacturers to track products along the supply chain.
Integration with other innovations
The union of blockchain technology with artificial intelligence (AI) is also set to speed up its adoption and make for better development. Blockchain can make AI more coherent and logical, allowing users to see how decisions are made in machine learning. This goes hand in hand with AI boosting blockchain efficiency, surpassing that of standard computing. Hybrid cloud solutions also favorably interact with blockchain, ensuring the privacy of personal healthcare data behind enterprise firewalls. As the technology continues to be integrated with other innovations, we may see new demographic trends emerge as well as an acceleration in research and development within healthcare that improves patient care over the next few years.
Increased growth in developing markets
Emerging markets, like China and the UAE are ambitious adopters of blockchain technology. However, most recently Estonia became the first country to use blockchain for healthcare on a national scale. In fact in this small European country, taxes can be completed online in under 5 minutes, one-third of citizens vote via the internet and 99% of Estonia’s public services are available online. Underpinned by blockchain technology, Estonia has improved the cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and efficiency of its healthcare services while facilitating the transition to preventive medicine and ensuring the integrity and security of all patient data. In 2020, more countries are set to follow suit by establishing similar provisions.