Blockchain technology is more than just digital money and crypto-currency. Like the Internet, blockchain allows people to exchange data, information and money, but in a way that is more secure, verifiable, and transparent without the need of a “trusted” third party (peer-to-peer) intermediary. Many industries will be reshaped by the new trusted data models enabled and inspired by blockchain – healthcare is no exception. In fact, healthcare may hold the greatest opportunities for meaningful use of the technology. Early pioneers have explored some of the first use cases for medical payments, electronic health records, HIPAA/data privacy, drug counterfeiting, and credentialing of healthcare professionals. We have only begun to scratch the surface in how to automate the complexities of today’s healthcare systems and design new systems which focus on trust, transparency and the alignment of incentives.
Metcalf, Bass, Hooper, Cahana, and Dhillon have assembled over 50 contributors including early adopters, thought leaders and health innovators telling their stories and sharing knowledge. Many authors and contributors also provide companion videos and transcripts that humanize the technical and sometimes abstract elements of block- chain. The authors curated a collection of examples based on the fundamentals of blockchain that build upon the early successes and examples that point to the future. After a brief introduction to fundamentals and the protocols available, as well as early blockchain efforts specific to health and healthcare, the authors discuss the promise of smart contracts and protocols to automate complex, distributed processes and some of the early consortia that are exploring the possibilities.
Examples and use cases are found throughout the book, with specific sections that cover the more sophisticated and far-reaching examples which have the potential to scale at the industry-level. In addition, a discussion of integrating blockchain technology into other advanced healthcare trends and IT systems – such as telemedicine, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, value-based payments, patient engagement solutions, big data solutions, medical tourism, and clinical trials among many others – is presented. The final section provides a glimpse into the future using blockchain technology and examples of research projects that are still in labs across the globe.