How blockchain can help providers access medical supplies more quickly

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Companies including IBM and Ernst & Young are developing blockchain projects that support COVID-19 relief efforts such as connecting providers with medical equipment and supplies as well as tracking potentially immune individuals, according to The Wall Street Journal.

IBM recently launched a blockchain project dubbed Rapid Supplier Connect, which aims to create a network of suppliers that can provide healthcare organizations with about 15 types of medical equipment, including masks, ventilators and dialysis machines.

Buyers usually need four to six weeks to verify and onboard new vendors or suppliers, but the blockchain network could "dramatically" decrease that amount of time, according to Mark Treshock, global blockchain solutions leader for IBM's healthcare and life sciences division.

Through the blockchain network, vendors can create profiles and upload financial information and FDA certifications for hospitals to access when looking for suppliers. After a hospital requests more information, the company can immediately share the data.

"Blockchain will hopefully help these parties trust each other quicker," Mr. Treshock said.

Ernst & Young employees are also working on a blockchain that would help employers, governments and others track people who have had COVID-19 antibody tests and potentially could be immune to the virus, according to the report. However, the World Health Organization issued an April 24 guidance on "immunity passports," claiming there is no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from a second infection.


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