Widespread blockchain adoption predicted within five years

According to survey released by the Pistoria Alliance, 83 percent of executives in life sciences and pharmaceutical companies believe there will be widespread adoption of healthcare blockchain tools within the next five years.

Change would have to come quickly, as only 22 percent of the 120 respondents said they were already using or experimenting with blockchain technology, which allows providers to put information about patient encounters into a tamperproof, decentralized electronic ledger. Those same execs see applications in several areas, including “an auditable trail to safeguard drug provenance” (68 percent) and storing medical records (60 percent).

“The dynamics of power are changing and patients today have become more empowered – we are seeing a shift to a transformative age of ‘the patient will see you now’,” Nick Lynch, consultant for The Pistoia Alliance, said in a statement. “In the future, patients will even have the possibility of monetizing access to their personal data, giving individual companies access to ‘blocks’ of their data for research purposes. This shift – where patients have access to and control over how their data is used – is changing the entire model of healthcare from early R&D all the way to frontline delivery. Ultimately, patients will want to manage their personal data the way they manage their bank accounts. The life sciences industry must collaboratively explore solutions that enable patients to do this, while ensuring they retain access to data for their own R&D efforts.”

Collaboration with federal agencies will be a priority, according to the survey, with regulatory issues cited by 45 percent of respondents as the biggest barrier to blockchaining, followed by concerns over data privacy (26 percent).

The potential with blockchaining has attracted the attention of IBM, which announced a research initiative between its Watson Health division and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January to test how the technology can be used as a secure data-sharing platform.