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Blockchain has transformative potential to advance precision medicine, patient care, and interoperability

Deloitte answers Department of Health and Human Services’ blockchain ideation challenge with six opportunities, a simplified framework for better understanding its potential for health care.

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2016—There are six major ways that blockchain-enabled technology can benefit health care, according to Deloitte’s “Blockchain: Opportunities for Health Care,” released today, in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) blockchain ideation challenge. In this response, Deloitte identifies those opportunities along with a framework to help health care leaders determine how blockchain could improve the nation’s health care.

Blockchain technology–a distributed digital ledger that records and stores transactions–has transformative potential. For example, the current state of health care records is disjointed and stovepiped due to a lack of common architectures and standards.

RJ Krawiec, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and a Health Innovation leader in its Federal Government Services practice

“But through the blockchain private key mechanism, patients could own their medical records and share information with health care organizations much more seamlessly and securely. Blockchain is not a panacea, but it could present a paradigm shift for the way the health care ecosystem treats medical records today.”

HHS is right to track this rapidly evolving field to identify trends and areas where government support may be needed for the technology to realize its full potential in health care. A blockchain-enabled, trusted exchange of health information can provide longitudinal views of patients’ health, generate new insights about population health and support the move toward value-based care.

Dan Housman, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and chief technology officer of ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte

In its response, Deloitte addresses six current Health Information Exchange (HIE) pain points, and opportunities for blockchain to address them:

Six HIE pain points and the potential of blockchain technology:

  1. Difficulty in establishing a trust network: Participants’ access to the distributed ledger would maintain a secure exchange without complex brokered trust
  2. Cost per transaction: Blockchain’s disintermediation and near real-time processing could reduce costs
  3. Lack of a Master Patient Index: Blockchain’s distributed, secured patient digital identities would bring together separate systems that all store different parts of patients’ health records
  4. Varying data standards: Blockchain can improve interoperability between systems as it can enable data sharing in near real-time across the network to all parties
  5. Limited access to population health data: Distributed, secure access to patient health data across the distributed ledger
  6. Inconsistent rules and permissions: Smart contracts create a consistent, rule-based method for accessing patient data that can be permissioned to selected health organizations

Additionally, Deloitte lays out a four-step framework for health care leaders to evaluate opportunities to adopt blockchain technology:

  1. Initiate: Identify the right pre-conditions for using the technology 
  2. Design: Determine which of the two primary use cases to consider: verify and authenticate information; or transfer value 
  3. Strengthen: Consider smart contracts that automatically execute when conditions are met
  4. Implement: Choose a permission-less or a permissioned blockchain and select a blockchain protocol that guides the structure of the blockchain and development of applications

To help advance HHS’ future use of blockchain technology, Deloitte describes how HHS could map and convene the blockchain ecosystem that could coordinate early adopters and support a consortium for dialogue and discovery.

In the US and around the globe, Deloitte has been a leading voice on the transformative potential of blockchain technology. Earlier this year, Deloitte announced alliances with five blockchain startups and built 20 blockchain prototypes to service industries including insurance, employee management and cross-border payments. Deloitte’s new blockchain offering guides clients through innovation and ideation, strategy development, prototyping, and product development. Read more about Deloitte’s perspective on blockchain.

About Deloitte Consulting LLP
Deloitte helps organizations grow their businesses and enhance value by identifying actionable insights. More than 23,000 professionals provide a broad range of capabilities across human capital, strategy and operations, innovation, and technology that are aligned to the particular needs of specific sectors, businesses, and organizations. Deloitte provides clients with leading business insights that can help generate a tangible and measurable impact.

Media contacts:

Megan Doern
Public Relations
Deloitte Services LP
+1 571 858 1990

Ellen Conti
Public Relations
Deloitte Services LP
+1 617 960 8294

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