According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 10 medical products in developing countries is falsified or substandard. The impact on personal and public health is estimated in the region upwards of $200 billion annually. According to a Pfizer-sponsored survey, Western Europeans spend an estimated 10.5 billion euros ($14.3 billion) a year on illicitly sourced medicines. According to Boyd Insurance, Medicare fraud in the U.S. alone costs about $68 billion a year.
In developing countries each year, more than 250,000 children with malaria and pneumonia, common illnesses do not survive after being treated with fake and substandard drugs. Around 30% of drugs that are sold in developing and third-world countries are considered to be counterfeits. Inspection and approval mechanisms are mostly inefficient or even non-existent in some cases. On the technical side, expensive analytic equipment generally isn’t available, while simple, accurate, and inexpensive testing systems for use in the field, at pharmacies, and at points of care remain out of reach for most communities.
Blockchain opens up the possibility of truly placing the patient at the centre of the healthcare ecosystem. A blockchain system could ensure a chain-of-custody log, tracking each step of the supply chain. The technology has the potential to also transform the industry through increased the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data. New models for health information exchanges are being build which make electronic medical records more efficient, disintermediated, and secure. Blockchain is seen as a powerful tool that can also help cut costs, carry out effective relief efforts, improve medical record keeping or access, and much more.
By 2020, global annual health spending is expected to reach over $8.734 trillion. According to a report by BIS research, by 2025, the healthcare industry can save up to $100 billion per year in data breach-related costs, IT costs, operations costs, support function and personnel costs, counterfeit-related frauds and insurance frauds if they incorporate the blockchain technology. The report also states that the use of “a global blockchain in the healthcare market is expected grow at a CAGR of 63.85% from 2018 to 2025, to reach a value of $5.61 billion by 2025. The use of blockchain for healthcare data exchange will contribute the largest market share throughout the forecast period, reaching a value of $1.89 billion by 2025, owing to the use of blockchain to solve the most widespread problem in healthcare information systems related to interoperability and non-standardization that has created data silos in the industry.”
The promise of blockchain has widespread implications for stakeholders in the health care ecosystem. Taking advantage of the benefits of this technology can connect fragmented systems to generate insights and to better assess the value of care through blockchain powered health information exchanges which unlock the true value of interoperability. With blockchain-based systems, a reduction of systematic friction and costs can be achieved and in the long run, blockchain networks for electronic medical records are expected to improve efficiencies and support better health outcomes for patients.
Some researchers forecast that over half of healthcare applications will have adopted blockchain for commercial deployment by 2025 but currently, healthcare institutions face challenges including an inability to securely share data across platforms. However, improved data collaboration between providers could result in a higher probability of accurate diagnoses, higher likelihood of effective treatments, and an overall increased ability of healthcare systems to deliver cost-effective care. The implementation of blockchain technology could enable parties in the healthcare value chain to share access to their networks without compromising data security and integrity. Blockchain technology creates unique opportunities to reduce complexity, enable trustless collaboration, and create secure and immutable information.
Key players in the global blockchain in healthcare market include IBM Corporation, Accenture, Microsoft, Capgemini, and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Startup Gem launched the Gem Health Network using Ethereum blockchain-enabled technology to create a secure, universal data-sharing infrastructure for the space. Tierion is another blockchain startup that has built a platform for data storage and verification in healthcare; both Gem and Tierion recently partnered with Philips Healthcare in the Philips Blockchain Lab. Another startup, Hu-manity, partnered with IBM on an electronic ledger that is trying to give patients more control over their data.
MedRec is a company that seeks to save the digital family history of medical records on an immutable blockchain database. MediLedger is reported to be using blockchain to strengthen the track-and-trace capabilities for prescription medicine. ConnectingCare is a platform for providers from different clinical organizations coming together to access the same data for shared patients on the blockchain. Robomed Network is a blockchain based medical network aimed at connecting patients and healthcare service providers using smart contracts.
At Block Patrol, we help businesses in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industry map and bring together the blockchain ecosystem to establish frameworks to coordinate early-adopters, and establish channels for dialogue and discovery. Whether your organisation intends on stopping the counterfeiting of drugs, tracking medical credentials or clinical trials and pharmaceuticals on blockchain, we can facilitate your collaboration with relevant experts in the blockchain industry. If your organisation is looking to make electronic health records more accessible with blockchain, or use the technology to enhance the security and control of healthcare transactions, we assist with connecting you with the right technical and industry professionals.