Healthcare blockchain will be widely adopted within 5 years, execs say

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A large majority (83 percent) of executives in life sciences and pharmaceutical companies believes there will be widespread adoption of healthcare blockchain tools within the next five years, according to a survey released by the Pistoia Alliance.

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).

“We are entering a future where individuals have cheap and ready access to their genomic profile or ancestral history, for as little as $100,” Pistoria Alliance President Steve Arlington, said in a statement. “The potential of this data to advance research and development efforts is huge. But this potential will only be realized if the industry can work out how to safely and securely store and share sensitive data. Right now, blockchain is a technology originally created for use in the financial services industry, but by working together, the life sciences industry can take advantage of its secure attributes.”

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

The survey indicated further collaboration with federal agencies will be needed, with regulatory issues cited by 45 percent of respondents, followed by concerns over data privacy (26 percent).