Blockchain is the hot new technology topic in the financial world, the health sector, and the supply chain industry. The idea, first applied by the virtual “cryptocurrency” Bitcoin, combines the security of cryptography with the safety of distributed data. This combination results in distributed ledger technology (DLT) that is highly secure and very difficult to hack because there is no central server containing all data that needs to be protected; everyone with rights to access the blockchain has visibility into the transactions that affect them.
Blockchain technology has a variety of applications in health, not least of which are medicine traceability and patient data management. This is just as true for the US domestic health sector as it is for health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Counterfeit drugs are a scourge in virtually every country, but nowhere is the problem more acute than in LMICs where regulatory agencies are poorly financed and under equipped to police the market. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are concerned about lost revenue but also about reputational risk when counterfeits are used and cause spikes in adverse reactions or poor treatment outcomes. Suppliers can’t trace their products beyond the primary purchaser (typically a wholesaler), small retailers can’t be sure of the integrity of their suppliers, and people who buy medicines on the retail market cannot be certain if they are getting the real thing. Blockchain technology can provide the transparency and accountability needed to ensure the integrity of every medicine and every transaction that moves it from where it’s manufactured to where it’s dispensed to the patient.
This infographic provides an easy to understand illustration of some of the possible applications in the health sector.
Read the entire blog on JSI's The Pump.