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Blockchain, a software platform enabling enhanced security when it comes to data sharing, is about to be adopted by the healthcare sector for the development of its data networks.

Blockchain technology


Blockchain is a transparent and secure data storage and transmission technology that operates without a central authority. It is a database that contains a record of all the transactions carried out between users since their origin.

The healthcare sector is now showing an interest in the technology. Shared by its various users and without intermediaries, it allows everyone to check the validity of the chain. It has numerous applications and could be of benefit to patients in particular.


Blockchain’s early adopters


Some companies expressed an interest in blockchain at a very early stage, through investments and partnerships. Among them is Change Healthcare – formed in March by the merger between McKesson Technology Solutions and Change Healthcare Holdings – and which joined the Hashed Health consortium in July to develop the use of this technology.

Change Healthcare announced in September that its network would be adopting the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 for blockchain application design and development.

Blockchain has numerous potential applications in healthcare. As well as enabling data to be shared more transparently and safely, at the patient’s discretion and control, it also offers a more global view of the patient’s health history, incorporating information drawn from hospital stays and outpatient visits.


Simpler and less vulnerable technology


Once implemented, Blockchain technology simplifies numerous processes at a smaller cost. The field of research could benefit greatly from it, thanks in the main to unprecedented collaboration between participants and researchers.

UC Berkeley School of Public Health was the first to take the plunge by using Bitmark, a blockchain-type system created by a Taiwanese company and ensuring participants know exactly how and where their data is being used.

Thanks to the fact that its multiple servers are less vulnerable to attack, blockchain’s technology could be useful in developing a private messaging system enabling communication between doctors and patients. 


A fast-developing technology 


Several solutions are currently being developed with a view to making blockchain more widespread. In June, Accenture and Microsoft created a prototype based on the technology to create a digital identity for 1.1 billion people around the world who do not have a formal ID.

July then saw the launch of the Hyperledger platform, a collaboration led by the Linux Foundation to advance the development of blockchain in healthcare and elsewhere.


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