4 key-use cases for blockchain in healthcare

Robert Musiala, blockchain counsel for Cleveland-based law firm BakerHostetler, discusses how blockchain will affect healthcare technology in the coming years, including its potential to help streamline pharmaceutical supply chains.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Question: Where is blockchain in healthcare now and how will it develop in 2019?

Robert Musiala: There are four key-use cases for blockchain in the healthcare industry. The first two relate to applications for managing pharmaceutical supply chains' data and clinical trial data. A third use case relates to streamlining the processes for healthcare insurance subrogation. The fourth, and most ambitious, use case relates to using blockchain to store and manage patient healthcare records.

In 2019, I expect to see continued work on all four use cases, with the primary focus on pharmaceutical supply chain and clinical trial data, as these are relatively less complex than insurance subrogation and patient records management.

Q: What do you think will be the most significant blockchain applications in healthcare over the next five years?

RM: If a fully functional and easily scalable pharmaceutical supply chain solution can be implemented within the next five years, that would be an incredible accomplishment for both the healthcare industry and the blockchain industry. It would also be a groundbreaking accomplishment from the perspective of an industry embracing a new model for business solutions and a government embracing a new model for regulatory compliance.

Q: What do health IT leaders at hospitals and health systems need to know about blockchain today?

RM: IT leaders in the healthcare industry are probably in the first stages of discussions about the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, which is set to phase in over the next 10 years, beginning in 2019. The most important thing these leaders need to know about blockchain is that a blockchain-based system is arguably the best way to design a solution for DSCSA compliance.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Jackie Drees at jdrees@beckershealthcare.com.

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