Technology can introduce new business models and improve care coordination One of the monumental shifts we are experiencing in the healthcare industry is the digital decentralization of the care delivery models. Digitization of drugs (therapies), devices, services and business models are democratizing current healthcare systems, unlocking new values by displacing high-cost gatekeepers and previously inaccessible segments. This has made the digital transformation theme a core strategic priority for all healthcare industry participants as they strive to justify the value in the much-anticipated data-driven, outcome-based reimbursement regime. Concurrently, at a federal level today, most countries have policies or strategies outlining digital health objectives, which have increased the adoption of digital health records such as electronic health records/electronic medical records (EHR/EMR) and other health IT (HIT) systems or infrastructures. Regardless of these digital initiatives, current limitations around security, integrity, and access control for personalized health data are creating critical bottlenecks for care delivery innovations. This, in turn, creates an inefficient digital health workflow with acute data silos between different providers, hospitals and payers, and even various departments within a health system, impeding care coordination. As the healthcare industry struggles to find the trade-off between risk and reward of going digital, potential application of blockchain technology provides a timely solution to mitigate some of these pressing needs. As stated in our last Forbes article on blockchain, despite the enormous potential of blockchain in disrupting healthcare digital workflows, it may not be the panacea for healthcare industry challenges. Based on Frost & Sullivan study Blockchain Technology in Global Healthcare, 2017-2025, discover the top 5 growth opportunities for blockchain technology in the digital transformation journey of the healthcare industry. GROWTH OPPORTUNITY 1: Addressing the Cybersecurity Challenges While the healthcare industry is known for its strict compliance policies and regulations to ensure data security and privacy, growing instances of cybersecurity threats are creating new concerns and dilemmas for implementing emerging digital workflows. Today, health systems, payers, and drug and device manufacturers need a secure and trusted connected health IT ecosystem to manage healthcare data and promote value-based care. According to the 2017 IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute study, the cost of data breaches for healthcare organizations has increased, averaging $380 per record, while for other industries it has dropped by 10%. Consequently, cybersecurity threats are becoming a grim concern for medical device and technology companies. For example, last year, Johnson & Johnson warned patients that their “OneTouch Ping” insulin pump was vulnerable to hacking. Most recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also reported findings of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in St. Jude Medical heart devices. With a growing number of connected health devices, the potential for hacking any medical device, whether or not it is connected to a network, is a problem that deserves serious attention by medical device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Unlike existing security systems, blockchain-based systems operate on distributed network consensus with built-in cryptography techniques that make all record of digital events immutable and nearly impossible to hack. These unique properties of blockchain could potentially provide an additional layer of trust to minimize cybersecurity threats for HIT systems, connected medical devices and embedded IT systems. With this new blockchain technology, health systems, medical device OEMs, and healthcare technology companies can now append more reliable and secure strategy around device identity management, promote the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) applications, and improve patient privacy, while providing selective access to patient-generated health data. GROWTH OPPORTUNITY 2: Health Data Exchange and Interoperability Data exchange in healthcare is complex. With the increasing digitization trend, good health data interoperability is necessary to stimulate care coordination. It is important to understand that true interoperability is more than information exchange; it is the ability of two or more systems or entities to trust each other and then use the information with shared accountability. With this, the real challenges for health data interoperability transcend the technical facets to more fundamental concepts, such as lack of trusted frameworks and integrity with existing HIT systems. As a result, despite increasing adoption of EMR/EHR systems and digital health solutions, lack of trusted digital workflows has resulted in disparate HIT systems and centralized health data management models. These trends have become essential to deploying new solutions, such as blockchain, which promises to offer a fresh approach to interoperability. The unique properties of this technology provide an immutable and trusted workflow with a “single source of truth” to warrant integrity around health data exchange, minimize cybersecurity threats, and augment health data governance applications. At its core, blockchain offers the potential of a shared platform that could decentralize health data interactions while ensuring access control, authenticity, and integrity of protected health information exchange. Furthermore, successful deployment of blockchain on top of existing HIT systems (as an additional layer of trust and security) will minimize administration-related inefficiencies by replacing traditional trustee administrators or registry owners in the existing workflow of health data exchange. GROWTH OPPORTUNITY 3: Healthcare Consumerism and ‘Quantified-Self’: The advent of digital health solutions is creating a plethora of personalized health and lifestyle data, manifesting a sense of healthcare consumerism. Today, consumers are more receptive to healthcare information, and they want to actively participate in healthcare at all levels of care. For example, a recent Frost & Sullivan survey revealed that about 69% of consumers in the United States track their health symptoms. Moreover, 41% will definitely change their physicians if they are not allowed to access their health records, and 74% of patients appreciate receiving customized alerts and news feeds post care. However, a majority of health consumers acknowledge that the existing patent engagement initiatives of major healthcare enterprises fail to effectively engage them during their experience in primary care. They seldom receive access to personalized treatment options, referral support and adherence alerts outside physician offices in real time. This raises important questions around patient data ownership, access, and privacy issues with current HIT systems and emerging digital health solutions. Additionally, in this multilayered digital patient engagement space, interoperability and trusted workflows will be critical for future success. Blockchain, as an open-sourced tool with peer-to-peer data-sharing networking models, provides identity management features with predefined user access rules to increase patients’ control over their health data and reliability for patient engagement initiatives. Further, permanent storage of encrypted patient-generated health data on immutable blockchain systems could provide a single, simplified view of patient data. This, in turn, empowers consumers to selectively share their anonymized personal health data for research, direct payment of incentive and health tokens toward positive and healthy behavior, and other adherence programs.