1) Most companies applying blockchain technology to healthcare correctly identify many of the problems of the healthcare system that should be solved (e.g. “blockchain can enable interoperability and price transparency”). However, most of these companies don’t address the fact that many of the “bugs” in the healthcare system are deliberate, and existing institutions have a vested interest to not fix them. It’s not a technology problem in most instances.
The real question is whether blockchain technology can enable new models that actually incentivize stakeholders to WANT to join a system that promotes interoperability (which is where token models might become interesting in the future).
2) Companies are trying to hop into a fully decentralized system immediately. This is unlikely to happen right now – the hand-off from a decentralized to a centralized system will be extremely bumpy + people that deliver good care are not going to want to jump into completely unproven models. Plus, more importantly, data standards have not yet proliferated in healthcare – you can’t execute things like smart contracts if people aren’t adhering to the same standards. A sizable portion of administrative labor in healthcare is dedicated to moving information from point A to B in a format understood by both parties (like a phone call or fax, god forbid.) Until this is fixed we need projects with some amount of centralization to at least handle coordination.
3) A lot of the initial consumer-facing applications have been focused on wellness tokens and paying people to exercise. I’m not sure I understand why you need a digital currency for this, or why a consumer wouldn’t prefer USD or any fiat currency which is less volatile and more usable. I also think companies that attempt this as a business will fall into the same wellness trap issue where ALREADY healthy people end up using the system much more than people who were previously unhealthy.
That being said, the number of blockchain-based consumer applications with actual users is nominal so even having users is impressive.
The full blockchain healthcare briefing will happen on Thursday the 27th at 1 PM, make sure to sign up.
For expert research clients, we looked at 7 other projects bringing blockchain to healthcare. See them here.
One of the blockchain applications we’re cautiously optimistic about is traceability in the pharma supply chain thanks to new regulations from the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. But before you can understand how blockchain can help, you have to understand how the supply chain works.
We broke down the pharmaceutical supply chain, the players, and the flow of money in our new research brief. Check it out.