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Opportunities for Use of Blockchain Technology in Medicine

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Abstract

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.

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Fig. 1

Source: statista.com

Fig. 2

Source: statista.com, Greenwich Associates 2016 Blockchain Adoption Study, Credit Suisse research

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank Mr. Eric Nham for proofreading the article.

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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.

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Correspondence to Robert Likić.

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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.

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Radanović, I., Likić, R. Opportunities for Use of Blockchain Technology in Medicine. Appl Health Econ Health Policy 16, 583–590 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40258-018-0412-8

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