How blockchain could reshape the healthcare industry in 2019

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Brian Kalis, managing director of digital health and innovation at strategy and consulting company Accenture, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, shares why he considers blockchain to be healthcare's next hot technology and how it can help secure patient records.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

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

Brian Kalis: Blockchain is the next hot technology to hit the healthcare market. While still a nascent technology in the industry, blockchain has potential to help healthcare providers and payers bridge traditional data silos, dramatically increase efficiencies, keep healthcare data secure and streamline patients' access to medical data. By offering trusted, seamless and secure transfer of information, blockchain has the potential to reshape the healthcare industry in 2019.

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

BK: Blockchain technology still has a lot of room to grow. Therefore, its potential for healthcare applications is boundless right now. I suspect the most significant blockchain applications in healthcare over the next five years will be:

Creating secured and trusted care records: Securing healthcare records created by healthcare professionals and patients into an electronic chain of events, while preserving the inherent provenance and integrity of those records.

Linking identities: Supporting strong identity proofing by preserving an immutable record of the declared identities of both patients and healthcare professionals.

Recording patient consent: Empowering patients through the recording of consent decisions and patient directives within the secured healthcare record.

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

BK: Healthcare organizations grappling with managing a wide network of partners can look to blockchain to simplify their collection and reconciliation of disparate healthcare and financial data. Blockchain provides the potential to connect these highly segmented data silos, adding a layer of trust through cryptographic proofs of the data's provenance. Healthcare organizations should bear in mind that despite the hype surrounding blockchain technology, it is not a cure-all for what ails the healthcare ecosystem but rather a tool in the healthcare toolbox — one that may face some of the same challenges current service models do.

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

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