A prescription for blockchain and healthcare: Reinvent or be reinvented

Blockchain disruption is coming. Are healthcare companies ready?

Blockchain-based technologies offer substantial opportunities to reinvent how healthcare companies access, collect, distribute, share, leverage, monitor and audit data. Not all companies will benefit. Companies that are slow to change may lose out to ones that use the technology to cut costs and increase efficiencies.

Companies should be prepared to identify where blockchain could improve their operations and interactions with trusted partners. Because blockchain projects are undergoing research and development, companies have just a few years before blockchain-based partnerships and programs begin to come into use. They have precious little time to plan, adjust and adapt.

What are the biggest hurdles for blockchain?

Trust and uncertainty are limiting the growth of blockchain – for now.

trust blockchain and healthcare

How blockchain could help provider and payer credentialing and directory updates

A blockchain-enabled system would permit data relevant to the provider and payer credentialing process to be shared and updated in real time.

A clinician who joins a physician network or hospital must first have his or her credentials—educational history, licensures, regulatory history and more—confirmed, which could require contacting more than a dozen entities and take months. They then must go through a similar process to join an insurance network. Insurance directories must then be kept up-to-date.

Credentialing, enrollment and updates take time and money. Payers spend more than $2 billion a year maintaining provider databases, and each provider submits an average of 18 applications for credentialing a year.

Blockchain could substantially simplify this process.

Download the full report to see the details of how blockchain could improve this process and others.

Supply chains in which sequential transactions move trackable physical assets through a system represent one way in which pharmaceutical manufacturers, packagers, distributors, wholesalers, dispensers and regulators could more seamlessly share information using a blockchain.

With blockchain technology, each company in the supply chain would control one or several nodes. Each time a company entered into a transaction with another company in the supply chain, that transaction would be recorded and validated on the blockchain.

This would simplify the transfer of data and allow product recipients to validate their provenance with greater certainty. It would also significantly simplify transaction reconciliations and data transfers.

Download the full report to see the details of how blockchain could improve this process and others.

How blockchain could help the pharmaceutical supply chain keep track of products

HRI impact analysis

The biggest hurdle to implementing blockchain may be finding suitable partners. In most traditional business transformations involving technology, a company needs only itself to start building. In the case of blockchain, multiple partners are often necessary. Those partnerships don’t form overnight; they require trust, alignment of objectives and a willingness to work together.

Think about how to scale. Healthcare supply chains have thousands of participating companies, such as product distribution or care delivery. It also can be challenging to scale given the legal and regulatory risks of a particular subsector. Blockchains must be set up in a way that permits auditing and prevents price-fixing while still adding value. They also should be set up with the knowledge that new entrants may wish to join a blockchain consortium in the future.

Anticipate disruption. Blockchain will be disruptive, but that disruption in healthcare won’t affect all companies equally. Companies should determine how blockchain might affect their operations and those of their partners. The greatest impacts are likely to be felt by intermediaries, including those who check, transfer, process or hold data for other healthcare companies. In some sectors, disruption of the status quo is already underway, and companies have just a few years before full-scale blockchain implementations begin to appear on the market.

Contact us

Benjamin Isgur

Health Research Institute Leader, PwC US

Carlos Moreira

Principal, US Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences, PwC US

Wayne McDonnell

Partner, PwC US

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