Healthcare companies are embracing blockchain technology at a pace faster many may suspect. As Healthcare IT News reports, 49 percent of global healthcare companies have blockchain initiatives already set in motion, according to A Prescription for Blockchain and Healthcare: Reinvent or be Reinvented, a new report from PwC.
Healthcare IT News notes this pace is a must for healthcare companies that wish to stay competitive. The outlet cites similar conclusions from both Gardner, which urged CIOs to explore blockchain solutions, and IDC, which listed considerations that healthcare providers should make while preparing to transition to blockchain in their operations.
The report outlined six process types that blockchain could impact in healthcare: supply chain and inventory management; enrollment and provider data management; back office functions and payments; data collection, exchange and management; risk and regulatory; and research and development.
“Blockchain is the enabling technology, but it’s really all about setting up new business
processes and communications networks between companies,” said Mack MacKenzie, senior director of business technology at Pfizer, in an interview with PwC Health Research Institute.
Of the hurdles to implementation, having the technical resources is one of them. 61 percent of the 74 global healthcare companies participating in this study said this skills gap stymied their blockchain projects.
"Not all companies will benefit. Middlemen may become obsolete. Companies that are slow to change may lose out to ones that use the technology to cut costs and increase efficiencies."
When PwC Health Research Institute asked companies what they viewed as roadblocks to blockchain adoptions, 47 percent responded lack of trust while 39 percent were deterred by regulatory uncertainty and 37 percent perceived a challenge in bringing the network together.
36 percent answered that blockchain interoperability was a major barrier and 33 percent had a similar attitude towards concerns about scaling. Cost is another hindrance, cited as a detriment to progress on blockchain projects for 31 percent of interviewed healthcare companies.
PwC researchers warn that while blockchain offers “substantial opportunities” in the healthcare space, "Not all companies will benefit. Middlemen may become obsolete. Companies that are slow to change may lose out to ones that use the technology to cut costs and increase efficiencies."
To stay competitive, healthcare companies must prepare for a technological shift or risk being left behind in the race for innovation.