Opportunities for Use of Blockchain Technology in Medicine
- 1.1k Downloads
Blockchain technology is a decentralized database that stores a registry of assets and transactions across a peer-to-peer computer network, which is secured through cryptography, and over time, its history gets locked in blocks of data that are cryptographically linked together and secured. So far, there have been use cases of this technology for cryptocurrencies, digital contracts, financial and public records, and property ownership. It is expected that future uses will expand into medicine, science, education, intellectual property, and supply chain management. Likely applications in the field of medicine could include electronic health records, health insurance, biomedical research, drug supply and procurement processes, and medical education. Utilization of blockchain is not without its weaknesses and currently, this technology is extremely immature and lacks public or even expert knowledge, making it hard to have a clear strategic vision of its true future potential. Presently, there are issues with scalability, security of smart contracts, and user adoption. Nevertheless, with capital investments into blockchain technology projected to reach US$400 million in 2019, health professionals and decision makers should be aware of the transformative potential that blockchain technology offers for healthcare organizations and medical practice.
The authors thank Mr. Eric Nham for proofreading the article.
Robert Likić conceived the idea and developed the structure of the manuscript. Igor Radanović wrote the first draft, which was then reviewed and revised by Robert Likić. Both authors contributed equally to the second revision of the manuscript and approved the final version of the article prior to its submission to the journal.
Compliance with ethical standards
No sources of funding were received for the preparation of this article.
Conflict of interest
Igor Radanović and Robert Likić have no conflicts of interest directly relevant to the content of this article.
- 1.HSBC. Rise of the technophobe: education key to tech adoption, says HSBC. 2017. http://www.hsbc.com/news-and-insight/media-resources/media-releases/2017/rise-of-the-technophobe-education-key-to-tech-adoption-says-hsbc. Accessed 5 Nov 2017.
- 2.Blockchain, bitcoin: Google trends. 2017. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=blockchain,bitcoin. Accessed 20 Dec 2017.
- 3.Warburg B. How the blockchain will radically transform the economy, TED talk. 2016. https://www.ted.com/talks/bettina_warburg_how_the_blockchain_will_radically_transform_the_economy/transcript. Accessed 7 Nov 2017.
- 4.Nakamoto S. Bitcoin: a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. 2008;9. https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf/. Accessed 12 Jul 2018.
- 5.51% Attack|Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/1/51-attack.asp. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
- 6.Dobson D. The 4 types of blockchain networks explained: ILTA. https://www.iltanet.org/blogs/deborah-dobson/2018/02/13/the-4-types-of-blockchain-networks-explained?ssopc=1. Accessed 19 Apr 2018.
- 7.Mougayar W. Understanding semi-private blockchain applications: medium. https://medium.com/@wmougayar/understanding-semi-private-blockchain-applications-6bbe91fc3596. Accessed 19 Apr 2018.
- 8.Swan M. Blockchain: blueprint for a new economy. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media; 2015.Google Scholar
- 11.Engelhardt MA. Hitching healthcare to the chain: an introduction to blockchain technology in the healthcare sector. Technol Innov Manag Rev. 2017;7:7. http://timreview.ca/sites/default/files/article_PDF/Engelhardt_TIMReview_October2017.pdf. Accessed 5 Nov 2017.
- 12.Brennan C, Lunn W. Blockchain: the trust disrupter. 2016. https://www.finextra.com/finextra-downloads/newsdocs/document-1063851711.pdf. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
- 13.Orcutt M. Why the CDC wants in on blockchain. MIT Technol Rev. 2017. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608959/why-the-cdc-wants-in-on-blockchain/?utm_source=MIT+Technology+Review&utm_campaign=5e937b6947-The_Download&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_997ed6f472-5e937b6947-154328629. Accessed 12 Nov 2017.
- 14.Peters A. Can blockchain disrupt health education, licensing, and credentialling? Lancet Global Health. Blog. 2017. http://globalhealth.thelancet.com/2017/10/31/can-blockchain-disrupt-health-education-licensing-and-credentialling. Accessed 12 Nov 2017.
- 15.Durant E, Trachy A. Digital diploma debuts at MIT. MIT news. 2017. http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-debuts-secure-digital-diploma-using-bitcoin-blockchain-technology-1017. Accessed 12 Nov 2017.
- 18.Fizzy. https://fizzy.axa/. Accessed 7 Nov 2017.
- 22.Lin P. Blockchain: The missing link between genomics and privacy? Forbes. 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/patricklin/2017/05/08/blockchain-the-missing-link-between-genomics-and-privacy/#531556b14b77. Accessed 9 Nov 2017.
- 23.Zimmerman J. DNA block chain project boosts research, preserves patient anonimity. Coindesk. 2014. https://www.coindesk.com/israels-dna-bits-moves-beyond-currency-with-genes-blockchain/. Accessed 8 Nov 2017.
- 25.Wajsman N, Arias Burgos C, Davies C. The economic cost of IPR infringement in the pharmaceutical industry. 2016. https://euipo.europa.eu/tunnel-web/secure/webdav/guest/document_library/observatory/resources/research-and-studies/ip_infringement/study9/pharmaceutical_sector_en.pdf. Accessed 13 July 2018.
- 26.WHO Expert Committee on Specifications for Pharmaceutical Preparations. WHO Tech Rep Ser. 2009. http://www.who.int/medicines/publications/TRS957_2010.pdf. Accessed 13 July 2018.
- 28.McCullagh A. Why blockchain matters more than you think! YouTube. 2017. https://youtu.be/sDNN0uH2Z3o?t=4m36s. Accessed 13 July 2018.
- 29.How blockchain will accelerate business performance and power the smart economy. Harvard Business Review. 2017. https://hbr.org/sponsored/2017/10/how-blockchain-will-accelerate-business-performance-and-power-the-smart-economy. Accessed 5 Nov 2017.
- 30.Sommersguter-Reichmann M, Wild C, Stepan A, et al. Individual and institutional corruption in European and US healthcare: overview and link of various corruption typologies. Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2018;16:289–302. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40258-018-0386-6.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 32.Vincent J. UN condemns internet access disruption as a human rights violation. The verge. https://tinyurl.com/yakoyapp. Accessed 26 Jun 2018.
- 33.Goswami S. Scalability analysis of blockchains through blockchain simulation. 2017. http://search.proquest.com/openview/0014a3463ae6bc3ac0b57a07e876a108/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y. Accessed 19 Apr 2018.
- 34.Buterin V. Ethereum scalability research and development subsidy programs. Ethereum Blog. https://blog.ethereum.org/2018/01/02/ethereum-scalability-research-development-subsidy-programs/. Accessed 19 Apr 2018.
- 36.Orcutt M. Ethereum’s smart contracts are full of holes: MIT technology review. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610392/ethereums-smart-contracts-are-full-of-holes/. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
- 37.Pearson J. Millions of dollars in Ethereum are vulnerable to hackers right now. Motherboard. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/8xddka/millions-of-dollars-in-ethereum-are-vulnerable-to-hackers-right-now-smart-contract-bugs. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.