IBM has announced that it is now planning to use a blockchain-enabled health surveillance system in order to collect data on antibiotics and opioids prescriptions by doctors.
Opioid prescription abuse is becoming a problem worldwide with figures showing that their illicit use has now overtaken heroin. Globally, prescription opioid pain relievers are now among the most commonly misused and abused medicines.
IBM’s blockchain system is now making it easy for public health agencies to track both medical practitioners and their patients in order to try and stem this new epidemic of drug misuse. The healthcare industry is seeing several attempts at developing secure digital platforms for the exchange of patient data, believing that blockchain-based solutions may have the potential to vastly improve current data sharing systems in national hospitals.
Healthcare and clinical research is an expanding area as doctors and hospitals increasingly need secure access to a patient’s entire health history. This new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.
The implications for the industry are endless. New platforms are emerging almost daily such as a diagnostic blockchain infrastructure aimed to host, train and use artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and a blockchain-powered platform designed to track and protect pharmaceutical data.
Prominent healthcare professionals are also growing increasingly confident that DLT has what is required to vastly improve the security of current centralized forms of data storage, which have been vulnerable to hackers attempting to steal patient data for sale on the black market.
IBM has, for some time now, been looking at applying blockchain solutions to the healthcare industry through its work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the end of last year, its chief science officer Shahram Ebadollahi acknowledged how relevant blockchain and AI was becoming in the industry.
“Blockchain is very useful when there are so many actors in the system… It enables the ecosystem of data in healthcare to have more fluidity, and AI allows us to extract insights from the data. Everybody talks about big data in healthcare but I think the more important thing is long data.”
Since then, CDC has run several pilots and is urging the healthcare community to take up the mantle. Another computer giant, Intel, has done exactly that, working with McKesson and Johnson and Johnson to use DLT to trace the pill supply chain. Intel’s Director of healthcare privacy and security commented that the tech could “vastly reduce the opioid epidemic” adding, “I would not say this will eliminate the opioid problem, but this will help.”
Another player in the healthcare space, the leader in blockchain healthcare solutions, Hashed Heath, maintains that blockchain’s most significant asset apart from the obvious tracking advantages, is that a “decentralized database of test results with free access to this data” prevents global duplication and enhances research by others moving forward.
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