It’s over 2 years since HIMSS had its first “Blockchain in Healthcare Symposium”, what started as hype has now crystallized into pragmatic approaches around technology solutions to solve the real healthcare challenges of bringing together security technologies and end-user applications.

Guardtime has been advocating a pragmatic and practical approach to blockchain for many years and it’s pleasing to see the KSI blockchain deployment with the Estonian Health Information System, which secures the integrity of the 1.3 million health records, being officially endorsed by Microsoft and the Office of Technology the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

David Houlding, Principal Healthcare Lead of Microsoft, articulates this well, “Hype: only public blockchain is truly blockchain” has been replaced with the “Reality: with focus on healthcare value, the vast majority of healthcare use cases are using private / enterprise blockchains”. Not only, because the absolute anonymity (read = ‘total distrust’) is unnecessary or even unwanted in healthcare, but because the technology should augment, not rebuild the existing B2B networks for meaningful new business opportunities.  

When Steve Posnack (Chief Executive of the ONC) followed this with a list of government validated challenges for blockchain, which must address, “access control and consent”, “auditing”, “new and improved workflows for supply-chain, track-and-trace, claims processes and payment automation, IRB clinical trial approval”, I knew Guardtime Health arrived at a right time and place; because this is all possible, right now.

It’s certainly music to my ears that the old mantra of “we need a blockchain” has been replaced with “I really want to open the new business opportunities for me”, oh and, “can I also have a blockchain application to manage the basics of my data governance?”. This means we’ve turned a corner and finally entered a phase where the comparison is between what works and what doesn’t be a rational business discussion rather than a technological one.

This epiphany makes it so much easier for customers as they already know what problems they still haven’t been able to solve and can now ask “which solution will solve them?” rather than “do I need blockchain” because whilst blockchain is important, blockchain alone does not solve problems.

Blockchain’s value comes from removing uncertainty within digital solutions by guaranteeing integrity of data, providing an immutable overview of what’s happening, thereby bringing certainly to any environment regardless of who controls the data. This common trust in the data is the only way to build mutual agreements within the supply chain, whether this is value-based contracting or supply chain transparency or complex clinical trials.

Whilst the future is never certain, the need for everyone to verify a common understanding of the ‘truth’ is gaining traction, whether this is to a government agency, independent regulator, procurer, investor or the media. Must be prepared for the future, if our actions today are being challenged.

I’ve only been at HIMSS for about 4 hours but coming to Orlando is already paying off and there is still the rest of the week ahead.

Looking forward to more insightful presentations as well as business chat with myself or our General Manager Glen Ogden at the Verizon booth (#1959). Right - the partnerships you can build as an intelligent technology company are amazing.