Blockchain Awareness, Deployment Plans in Healthcare Orgs Ramping up, Survey Finds

Oct. 4, 2017
About one-fifth of hospital executives and three-quarters of payers are either considering deploying, or are in the process of implementing some blockchain solution sets, according to a recent Black Book survey.

About one-fifth of hospital executives and three-quarters of payers are either considering deploying, or are in the process of implementing some blockchain solution sets, according to a recent Black Book survey.

For the research, Black Book conducted a 2017 Q3 survey of 88 healthcare payers and 276 provider technology executives, managers and IT specialists to deliver a better comprehension of current and planned enterprise deployment of blockchain solutions.

The survey also looked to measure the level of organizational investment in healthcare blockchain technology, as well as which companies are considered as having the strongest healthcare industry expertise and credentials.  A blockchain is an open, continuous, and secure ledger stored online that can't be altered. Via blockchain technology, users can share information among multiple stakeholders, recording transactions between parties efficiently and in a more verifiable and permanent way, experts attest.

The research concluded that an understanding of healthcare blockchain has developed dramatically. Black Book determined that 19 percent of responding hospital executives and 76 percent of payers were either considering deploying, or were in the process of implementing some blockchain solution sets.

This increase in blockchain awareness was marked by 29 percent of hospital leaders and 82 percent of health insurance executives having a working understanding of blockchain in Q3 2017.  Actual breaches and cybersecurity events have boosted CIO readiness significantly as compared to last year’s survey.  "Executive blockchain education has shifted from Blockchain 101 to selecting the appropriate healthcare blockchain technology protocols," said Doug Brown, managing partner, Black Book.   

Blockchain, which is emerging more and more as a possible solution that could solve some of healthcare’s core problems such as interoperability and data security, was named a Top Tech Trend by Healthcare Informatics earlier this year.

To this end, 93 percent of managed care organization respondents and 70 percent of hospital respondents report respectively that blockchain shows soaring promise for healthcare interoperability. And, 90 percent of medical group managers and IT specialists who were surveyed agreed that blockchain may resolve and expedite most concerns of connectivity, privacy and patient record sharing.  

"The most popular connectivity strategy circulating among health care technologists, and even ONC (the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT), is blockchain technology," said Brown. "The lack of technical standards for this still-immature technology is causing regulatory uncertainty while the industry anticipates explanations from federal rules at some point in 2018".

Further, Black Book found that 98 percent of survey-responding payers with plans of 500,000 or more members are actively considering deploying or were in the process of deploying blockchain, with 14 percent involved in trial deployments in some form currently.

Some 70 percent of all-size payer organizations expect blockchain to be integrated into their systems by Q1 2019, but only 9 percent of provider health organizations and systems have firm plans to implement blockchain by Q2 2018, according to the survey data.

The undetermined cost of blockchain solutions causes 88 percent of provider leadership respondents from committing to a time frame or anticipated deadline for deploying the technology.

Based on research and recommendation of both providers and payers considering blockchain initiatives in 2018, Black Book respondents who were either deploying, or considering implementing blockchain, were instructed to rank providers based on their impressions of presentations and offerings to date.

The vendors named in the survey suggest that increased awareness of blockchain’s capabilities leads to a greater understanding of the scale of potential hurdles in healthcare organizations specifically.  These vendors received positive product and services perception scores above 9.00 on the Black Book scale of 1 to 10. Some of the top mentioned and more well-known healthcare blockchain vendors in the survey include Pokitdok, Blockchain Health, IBM Blockchain, and Hashed Health.

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