Almost half of physicians 'aren't aware' of what blockchain is

Despite recent buzz about blockchain's potential to improve healthcare, a recent survey by SERMO found almost half of physicians aren't aware of the technology.

Industry and government stakeholders have supported efforts to use blockchain, a permanent and shared ledger of online transactions or exchanges, to streamline healthcare operations. Unlike a traditional database that is centrally located and maintained by one party, a blockchain record is shared among a network of users.

In January, the National Institute of Standards and Technology suggested blockchain may support healthcare record-keeping processes by centralizing patient data across the care continuum. Audit and consulting firm Deloitte released a report in 2017 on blockchain's potential to improve data interoperability, supply chain operations and revenue cycle management in hospitals.

Still, some industry experts have accused blockchain developers of promoting a technology that's yet to identify a successful use case. When asked to select the most overhyped IT trends — those unlikely to make a "tangible, positive" impact on healthcare within the next two years — 48 percent of hospital CIOs cited blockchain, according to a recent Impact Advisors survey.

To assess healthcare providers' attitudes toward the technology, SERMO, a global social network for physicians, asked 3,700 of its members: "Is blockchain technology ready to enter the healthcare world?"

However, rather than providing an answer, 49 percent of U.S. respondents and 47 percent of respondents worldwide reported they were "not aware of this technology."

Of the 1,653 U.S. physicians who were familiar with the technology, 19 percent indicated blockchain was ready to enter healthcare, compared to 25 percent of physicians worldwide. Thirty-two percent of U.S. physicians and 28 percent of worldwide physicians said blockchain was not ready to enter healthcare.

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