Blockchain for Healthcare

Blockchain, at the core of it, is inherently tamper-resistant, transparent and distributive blocks of information that are linked to each other. As blockchain is a network of decentralized information and all-permitted participants in the supply chain can access the information uploaded on the blockchain network. Also, the data once uploaded to the blockchain network is not touched twice, but added to. This enables companies to maintain version history and build a more trusted supply chain.

Healthcare businesses are wholeheartedly embracing blockchain. Blockchain principles of self-sovereign identity and decentralized identity have tremendous value in every type of healthcare supply chain.

Download the 3 real-life examples below to learn how healthcare companies are using blockchain:

  1. A Pharmaceutical Distributor Improves Pharmaceutical Drug Quality and Compliance:

 Situation: This pharmaceutical drug distribution company distributes pharmaceuticals to hospitals, specialist practices and retail pharmacies. This drug distributor is required to adhere to strict industry regulations on drug handling, transportation and storage. These regulations include maintaining the temperature range, humidity and air quality while drugs are being transported to hospitals and pharmacies. Also, environmental conditions within the supply chain have a direct impact on the quality and efficacy of drugs. An unexpected change in weather and a small spike in the temperature can render the drug useless.

Challenge: Today, drugs can be monitored throughout the supply chain using smart IoT devices.  The temperature, humidity and other environmental factors can be recorded throughout the supply chain lifecycle.

But since every supplier and customer of this drug distributor maintains its own separate ledger (internal ERP system) of incoming and outbound deliveries, it was difficult to track problems within any particular segment of the supply chain. If drugs were damaged during their journey to the final customer, tracing the problem’s origin and the party responsible for the damage became truly tedious for the distributor.

Solution: Blockchain-powered end-to-end drug compliance and payment solution:

    1. The pharmaceutical manufacturer (with help from the drug development supplier) produces pharmaceutical drugs.
    2. Before shipping the drugs off to the distributor, the manufacturer uploads details of the current quality of drugs on the blockchain network.
    3. The distributor receives the drug shipment from the manufacturer and verifies the current state/quality of drugs against the data previously uploaded by the manufacturer.
    4. Once satisfied that the drug quality has not deteriorated, the distributor gets ready to ship the drugs off to hospitals, retail pharmacies and specialty physician practices.
    5. The distributor uploads details of the current quality of drugs on the blockchain network.
    6. Hospitals, retail pharmacies and specialty physician practices receive drug shipments from the distributor. They verify the current state/quality of drugs against the data previously uploaded by the distributor.
    7. Once satisfied that the drug quality has not deteriorated at any point during the supply chain; hospitals, retail pharmacies and specialty physician practices can automatically execute smart contracts (through the blockchain solution) to pay the distributor.
    8. Thus, the distributor enjoys timely, accurate payments and maximum compliance with the drug standards/quality demanded by its customers.
    9. Alternatively, if drugs are damaged at any point during the supply chain, every participant in the supply chain can identify the exact stage at which the damage occurred. This acts as an additional proof of compliance for the innocent party/parties.

  1. Easily Verifiable Credentials for Healthcare Professionals:

 Situation: Traditionally, as new graduates of medical schools, universities and specialist training programs receive their medical credentials and start looking for job opportunities in healthcare, they encounter long wait times to have their credentials manually verified by the prospective employer. Prospective employers need to formally request access to such credentials from the issuer (medical school, industry association etc.); which in itself can be a lengthy process.

 Challenge: Although the formal credential request and verification process exists to ensure data integrity and data security, this results in delays in the recruitment process. Graduates need to rely on external parties in order to be successfully and quickly vetted by their new employer. They are unable to quickly supply their own credentials.

Solution: Blockchain-powered credential verifier solution:

    1. When the medical school or industry association issues the medical credential to the graduate, a digital cryptographic version of this credential is anchored on the blockchain network.
    2. When a prospective employer wants to verify the credential, the graduate provides the credential uploaded on the blockchain network.
    3. Due to the inherent auditability and transparency of blockchain technology, the employer or verifier rests assured that the credential is genuine, authentic and conferred by the issuer itself.
    4. Thus, integrating blockchain into the supply chain of healthcare education and recruitment empowers graduates to take control of who accesses their medical credentials and how.

  1. Seed-to-sale Tracking for Cannabis Company:

 Situation: This U.S.-based cannabis company distributes legalized pharmaceutical drugs to hospitals, pharmacies and physician practices. The cannabis company is required to adhere to strict industry and government regulations regarding the authenticity and integrity of drugs that it distributes.

Challenge: The DSCSA (Drug Supply Chain Security Act) regulation in the U.S. requires drug manufacturers, distributors and third-party logistics providers to implement product tracing solutions in their supply chains by 2023. The purpose of this legislation is to restrict counterfeit, harmful drugs from entering the supply chain and reaching end consumers.

This means that the cannabis distributor needs to improve the transparency of its supply chain.

Solution: Blockchain-powered drug tracing solution:

    1. The government issues production licenses as digital cryptographic credentials to the cannabis farmer and drug manufacturers.
    2. Once drugs are produced, the manufacturer issues distribution licenses as digital cryptographic credentials to the drug distributor.
    3. The distributor delivers the drugs to hospitals, pharmacies and physician practices. Using blockchain, the entire journey of these drugs can be tracked to trace the drugs back to their origins and verify their legitimacy.
    4. This way, every participant in the supply chain ensures compliance with the DSCSA regulation and no counterfeit drugs reach the end consumer.
    5. Thus, blockchain enables the cannabis distributor to track drugs from seed to sale, ensuring drug authenticity and quality.

Definitive Guide On Integrating Blockchain Into Your IT Strategy:

So you love how blockchain has many possible use cases in healthcare and want to explore how blockchain can be used to strengthen your healthcare business. Great! But how exactly do you go about deploying blockchain? Alongside many design considerations, there is a major skills gap in the blockchain universe. 94% of the Fortune 500 companies are having trouble discovering the right blockchain talent and for every qualified blockchain developer, there are 14 open job opportunities.

In light of such a challenge, how do you use the right strategy to ensure your company’s blockchain plans become a reality? Download the guide below to find out!

  1. Upskilling & In-house Training – This means building an entire in-house team to plan and implement blockchain projects. To successfully execute blockchain projects in-house, your company needs to have general software development and engineering expertise, an understanding of the key blockchain principles and an awareness of the security and regulatory implications of the specific blockchain applications you are planning to build.

Pros:

    • Companies that already have a software development team can avoid having to hunt for external, rare talent.
    • You enjoy complete control over the entire planning, development and deployment process.
    • Relative cost savings as compared to buying a fixed-price external blockchain product/application.
    • Upskilling and training your own employees leads to a sustainable internal knowledge transfer that your company can reap the rewards of for years to come.

Cons:

    • If your company specializes in specific healthcare products/services and does not have a dedicated IT/developer team, sourcing outside blockchain developers can be challenging for HR departments and IT managers.
    • As training your employees, planning and executing the project takes considerable time, in-house development is not advisable if your blockchain project has a short-term deadline.

Use This Strategy If:

    • You already have in-house professionals with knowledge of data science, algorithms and cryptography (because they are well-positioned to quickly get the hang of blockchain technology and get the project off the ground).
    • You are open to (and have the budget to use) training programs, coding schools and developer bootcamps to train your employees.

2. Outsourcing and Blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) – By outsourcing your blockchain needs, you will be collaborating with a skilled external team with years of blockchain-specific development experience on its resume. In addition, by tuning into the BaaS model, you will leverage cloud-based solutions to build and host your blockchain apps while paying the service provider a fee to manage, maintain and support the cloud infrastructure (hosting, security, managing the bandwidth etc.).

Pros:

    • Outsourcing allows you to focus on the actual functionality of the blockchain app, rather than having to worry about the development.
    • As tech giants (Microsoft, IBM, Amazon etc.) have all launched their own blockchain hosting services, it is now possible to efficiently and cost-effectively contract-out all complex technical parts of blockchain projects (no matter the size of your organization).
    • Working with an established, experienced partner helps you avoid expensive hiring mistakes.

Cons:

    • Relatively lower control over the development phase of the project, you have to trust and rely on your blockchain partner’s experience.
    • Outsourcing your blockchain needs is not advisable if your aim is to have a suite of in-house blockchain gurus available 24/7.

Use This Strategy If:

    • You prefer quick, efficient app deployment over coding, building and developing the app from scratch.
    • You already have access to a reliable, cost-friendly hosting partner that will work with you to get your project running.

3. A Merged Path – As the name suggests, here’s where you take an external provider’s help while also getting your internal teams’ skills in shape.

Pros:

    • While working with the outside vendor, in-house employees have the valuable opportunity to observe and learn blockchain principles, practices and tools. This on-the-job training enables them to apply the learnings to future projects, improving the company’s thought leadership potential.
    • This on-the-job training is also much faster and cost-effective than sending employees to expensive training programs. That’s because you’re killing 2 birds in 1 stone (training employees AND collaboratively developing a blockchain application)!

Cons:

    • If you want to build a one-off blockchain application, you’re better off hiring an external vendor for a short term rather than investing the time and effort to merge in-house and external teams.

Use This Strategy If:

You want to integrate blockchain into your organization’s long-term strategy or add blockchain as one of your offerings (hint: this is exactly what we did!)

Blockchain-Case-Studies-1.pdf (39 downloads)
Blockchain-Guide.pdf (41 downloads)
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