To Blockchain, That Is The Answer
editor - March 4, 2019

In APAC, the trend towards having the innovative technology applied in the healthcare industry is seen on the rise and expected to bring benefits to providers and patients.  

Blockchain in healthcare. Ever thought of that? It actually makes sense as the market holds many of the most sophisticated people and employs the most advanced science, so why not blockchain? In fact, according to a research done by Prescient & Strategic Intelligence, blockchain in the global healthcare market is expected to reach $890.5 million by 2023. The growth is mainly dedicated to regulations for securing consumer data, increasing funding and investments for blockchain, and the adoption of blockchain technology in the industries, both healthcare and pharmaceutical. Geographically, Asia-Pacific (APAC) is expected to be the fastest growing blockchain in the healthcare market, at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of over 70.0%.

So how is the healthcare market categorized? It is classified into the following areas: clinical data exchange and interoperability, claims adjudication and billing management, drug supply chain management, drug discovery and clinical trials, prescription drug abuse, and others.  Among all these, just clinical data exchange and interoperability only is expected to occupy about half of the big pie, more than $400.0 million by 2023, over a CAGR of 70.0%. As for APAC, which is renowned for embracing advanced technology, the healthcare cognitive computing industry is expected to see a huge boost in demand, at a CAGR of 41.6% and 41.1% in the smart home healthcare industry. With such an aspiring forecast, the blockchain must have its way to benefit healthcare, but how? First, one major advantage blockchain has over other sharing storage systems is decentralization. All the data is cryptographically stored within the blockchain, which means it’s not owned by one single entity, and if any changes are made, all the nodes in the “chain” will be affected thus immutability can strictly be enforced. This is of great concern when the patients’ privacy is considered, and it’s only after the individuals’ consent that the data can be shared as the tracking of data is made transparent. In other words, this decentralized and immutable ecosystem also ensures the fear of corruption can be kept to a minimum.

Besides, from the patients’ point of view, it is good that they can have control over how the medical data is to get used or shared by other doctors and/or medical institutions.  It is, by all means, beneficial for their treatments whereas it also contributes to other respective clinical researches that can be proved helpful. In Singapore, a government-owned deep technology development firm SGInnovate has invested in a blockchain and healthcare analytics start-up named MediLOT, to allow patients and doctors fully share the health data stored for better diagnoses and more effective treatments. The decentralized health data platform, according to SGInnovate, is built on “blockchain, artificial intelligence and database management system technologies for patients, healthcare providers, researchers and commercial companies.”

Not surprisingly, the sharing of medical information is also highly regarded in South Korea. Myongji Hospital has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Korean IT company BICube, which is known as a machine learning platform. The collaboration aims to create a healthcare information exchange system to enable patients share sensitive medical data with other medical institutions, of course, with full authorization. The data will then be stored in a blockchain-based decentralized platform to ensure the maximum security.

Likewise, even the Philippines has joined the hot trend. The first-ever blockchain-based electronic medical record (EMR) will soon be rolled out in the country by a company named MediXServe. The unified EMR will make the medical history of patients trackable, that is to say, the individuals can access their medical records from all the doctors they have been to, plus all the hospitals they had stayed since the day they were born.  This might sound simple on the surface but not the case in the Philippines as different hospitals can use a different storage system. This has doubtlessly contributed to the existing interoperability issue but the blockchain can fix it, making the medical history permanent and trackable while creating a modernized and simplified storage of data that can well assist in decision-making and diagnostic support.

Blockchain technology is no doubt one of the most disruptive technologies in the world, to apply it in healthcare seems encouraging. The peer-to-peer network offers a trustworthy environment that can effectively guard against fraud and the tampering of data. Though it is not an analytics platform, it’s a protected public ledger that is highly resilient and ideal for the healthcare industry to better their operations and performance. Let’s hope the state-of-the-art technology will produce impressive results in APAC first, then countries worldwide will follow the success to reform the industry and save more lives.

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