Blockchain data verifier Tierion has released a new blockchain “healthcare” report seeking to offer a “balanced perspective” on the possibilities of the technology in the field.
Tierion: ‘Separate Hype From Reality’
Tierion, which produced the report a year on from the start its blockchain healthcare project, seeks to highlight its findings as “separating the hype from reality.”
“Many blockchain reports portray overly optimistic scenarios,” the company explains. “We aim to provide a balanced perspective that addresses the opportunities and risks for the use of blockchain technology in healthcare.”
The report comes as the US government is turning its attention to blockchain healthcare, having announced a competition in July for companies to submit their most innovative implementations.
Tierion noted that activity in healthcare was “accelerating.” A year in making, the company’s precis of current market conditions is however frank from the outset.
“Most blockchain technology is not ready for mainstream deployment,” it states. “Financial services companies have produced hundreds of proof-of-concepts. Most of these projects have not evolved into production ready software due to technical and regulatory challenges.”
Problems of Patients and Third-Party Access
The report gives due attention to the realizable promises championed in disruptive fintech circles. The company cites reductions in costs, elevating standards, optimizing communications via removal of middlemen and market disruption by smaller players as potential boons for the industry.
These positives are balanced by warnings of “hype overload” in the current climate, inflexible customer relations with first-mover blockchain health startups, and the comparatively untested nature of much of the new technology. Also highlighted are risks associated with putting sensitive data in full control of patients.
“This necessitates an alternative access method is built into the technology that safeguards the data. This backdoor represents a security risk,” the report continues.
Tierion also considers a situation where such a large rollout could result in security issues with patients as the weak link.
“Broad deployment of blockchain healthcare technology would likely result in the world’s largest key management problem,” it adds.
Indeed, real-world implementations in healthcare have so far only scratched the surface of would is potentially possible. Estonia was notable in moving to secure patient data on the blockchain, yet the concept does not currently involve hands-on patient interaction.
“Blockchain technology presents more pitfalls than promises at this early stage,” Tierion concludes. “We’re optimistic about the impact of blockchain in the years to come, but sober about the reality of what is possible today.”
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Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tierion.
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