Blockchain for Healthcare in Dorset

Crypto-currencies are revolutionising how the world looks at currency, transactions and trading.  But the crypto-currency is only one more recent aspect of the possibilities of the original 1991 blockchain concept.

The idea that activity is recorded against the life of the chain, the security concept of hashing, and the chain being distributed amongst trusted entities is immensely powerful.  Tampering with a blockchain to successfully alter the data is essentially not possible.  At least not currently.  A full record of certified events can be recorded as blocks in the chain.

The uses across industry are wide and varied.

For Healthcare we are looking at simple applications of the more obvious healthcare record use case, but then broadening the scope to consider other avenues.

We face increasing cost pressures in the NHS as everyone knows.  A large portion of the money spent goes on medicines for example.  In 2016 over £16bn in fact across the country!  We believe by introducing blockchain controls for the medicines we can more efficiently manage wastage, deliveries, pricing and support research on which drugs are working as intended.

Tracking and traceability of corporate and clinical assets is another key area.  Who has a particular asset, and what maintenance work has been carried out on it, when is it due for replacement, which software levels does it have and of which release, where has it been?

We can then apply a similar logic to patients in a hospital.  Where are they?  Are they a high risk patient?  What happens if they haven’t moved for a certain period of time and so on.

We believe that contract negotiation, signature and payment should be exploited by the NHS too.  Once the contract is signed it can be monitored electronically and compliance to the clauses recorded.  At the appropriate payment or renewal milestone the blockchain can be reviewed and if there have been no out of tolerance recordings the negotiation phase could be automatically started, or payment automatically made.

There is huge potential that if aligned with machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms that our Systems can auto commission, award and pay suppliers for critical contracts.

The biggest challenge we face in the adoption of such a fundamentally disruptive technology into healthcare in the UK will be trust and willingness to change.

We are building more and more use cases and developing relationships with key partners to start some pilot cases.

Rather than continue to ruminate on should we use blockchain, here in Dorset we will be asking where can’t we use it.

Stephen Slough FBCS CITP

Experienced Digital leader passionate about using innovation and technology to transform ways of working. Balancing the desire to bring about that change with sustainable high quality services that go beyond the expected.

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