E.G. Nadhan, Chief Technology Strategist, Red Hat

In this article on The Blockchain in Healthcare, Andy Gaudette, SVP, HMS provides a clear overview of how Blockchain is vital to providing access and visibility into healthcare data to the patient — the most important entity of all. “If all my data were stored in a blockchain, that is securely distributed among many computers, and I was the only person that had the authority to share pieces of that, that would be ideal”. I go back to my close encounter with Steven Keating from the The Open Patient fame and his endeavor to get access to what should rightfully be the easiest information to access – his patient data. Gaudette explains the concept of Blockchain and how it can be intelligently applied to provide access to all our healthcare data to us as patients – no matter where we are! Gaudette’s article is a great read and prompted me to extend the application of Blockchain to the healthcare industry at large. This was prompted by a close study of the Future of Healthcare on The Economist shared by Craig Darling from HMS. Let us just say that the outlook on Blockchain is getting healthier with each assertion made in the video referenced in this article.

It was almost as if Blockchain was beckoning me to come upon these two sources of insight and information from Gaudette and Darling helping me crystallize my own perspective over time from the present into the future. True to its concept, I am able to get a broader perspective on the pervasive impact this technology can have on the Healthcare industry in the coming years.

In Blockchain, I trust.

Assertion One. Technology now has the power to connect doctor, patient and community as never before integrating health care into our daily lives from the very beginning to our twilight years.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. With connections, come the vulnerability of confidential patient data being compromised. Blockchain allows for the relevant data to be resident with the different parties concerned while providing the patient a more holistic view of their complete data across the ecosystem.

Assertion Two. Technology increases the efficiency of delivering care while reducing barriers to collecting and sharing critical information about our daily well being.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. John Santa from Open Notes shares his thoughts on how technology can be a catalyst for opening up data sharing in healthcare. Data that is not shared is less likely to be compromised in the first place. However, the moment technology opens up the barriers to collecting and sharing critical information, the need to secure it in transit is magnified. Hello Blockchain!

Assertion Three. Smarter, wearable, connected devices now provide more profound, round-the-clock monitoring.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. Every wearable and monitoring device has vital information that represents a piece of us. While a single device will not be able to paint the complete health profile, it will have data without which the picture is bound to be incomplete. This is exactly Gaudette’s point!

Assertion four. Patients and physicians will discover more apps for virtual and augmented reality such as doctor instruction and enabling procedures.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. Deciphering the doctor’s handwritten instruction will be challenge by itself and can put augmented reality to the test! Virtual and augmented reality can bring in non-traditional pieces of information as part of the overall blockchain – which will still need to be subject to the same level of scrutiny and validation.

Assertion Five. AI and BigData will hasten the discovery of pharmaceutical cures for new diseases and will continue the more accurate and extensive patient records through the cloud.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. The need for high-volume complex calculations is bound to take the applications to the cloud triggering concerns about security. It is even more vital that patients have the reassurance of having a paradigm like blockchain provide a layer of security of their data no matter where it is resident – on premise or in the cloud.

Assertion Six. New devices will continue interact with one another to instantly share omnipresent healthcare information.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. Omnipresence of healthcare information is about ensuring access to the complete picture of the patient no matter where the patient is. Which is exactly what Blockchain can enable — see Gaudette’s example of accessing relevant data while snowboarding!

Assertion Seven. Tiny sensors, biotechnologies grown from human tissues, electronic implants and intravenous nanomachines become commonplace.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. Gaudette discusses the advantages of splitting a monolithic data store into distributed pieces of data stored across several computers. That is exactly the ecosystem that the plethora of sensors, implants and intravenous naomachines are evolving into!

Assertion Eight. Drone ambulances responding to instantaneous vital sign alerts — will ensure emergency care -even for those situated remote areas.

  • Outlook on Blockchain. Blockchain can ensure the data privacy and security about why the “drone ambulance” showed up, the diagnosis and the treatment given to the patient.

Assertion Nine. The concept of a general hospital will be reinvented drastically as medically facilities will be redesigned into smaller and more modular structures strategically disbursed for greater efficiency. 

  • Outlook on Blockchain. Distribution and disintermediation are the key mantra here — both being served well by the fundamentals of the blockchain architecture.

There you have it.

As I look out into the future of where healthcare is headed, the outlook for Blockchain is not only healthy but also meaningful to the entity that is at the nucleus of it all — The Patient — which is exactly Gaudette’s point. I am sure Steven Keating will agree!