The lifetime of a drug: a blockchain-enabled history

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The past couple of years has seen an increasing interest in using blockchain in healthcare. With its ability to capture a lifetime’s history of an asset – be it an individual’s health records or tracking of a drug throughout the supply chain – blockchains have the potential to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs and risk and optimise service delivery.

Whilst healthcare organizations appear to be ahead of the curve in adopting blockchain, life sciences companies are taking a more cautious view.  They face different challenges than many other industries when implementing new processes and technologies due in part to inefficient legacy processes, as well as a cautious attitude to the maturity of the technology. A restrictive regulatory environment that varies by geography is also a major challenge for the life sciences industry.

The IBM Institute for Business Value recently conducted study in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit to understand what executives working included chief financial officers (CFOs), chief technology officers (CTOs) and chief information officers (CIOs). Those participating had to meet specific criteria: they were either working with — or planning to work with — blockchains in the next 12 months, and they needed to be familiar with the blockchain strategies of their organizations.

In our most recent study Team Medicine: How life sciences can win with blockchain, we identified a group of life sciences organizations that are working with and investing in blockchain today, the First Movers. So what potential are they seeing in blockchain that others have yet to understand? Sixty-nine percent of First Movers anticipated seeing the top benefits (in terms of cost, time, risk) in three areas: regulation and compliance, intercompany processes and patient empowerment. They also expect new business models to be built primarily around patient empowerment, end to end serialization, and regulation and compliance.

From a regulation and compliance perspective, blockchain solutions can track compliance and enable smart contract-based checks as a deterrent to non-compliance. They provide an audit trail that tracks drugs within the supply chain, streamlines enforcement, deters bad behaviour and notify parties of any non-compliant events.  In addition, they can track who has shared data and with whom, without revealing the data itself.

To find our more about our blockchain life sciences join Mark Treshock at the HIMSS Conference in Las Vegas. on Wednesday, March 7th from 3:30-4:00pm at the IBM Theater Session # WA12. To see a full listing of the sessions visit our Theaters page

Learn more about IBM Watson Health presence at HIMSS18 booth #6243:

Alternatively download the paper at

IBM Institute for Business Value, Global Life Sciences & Healthcare Lead

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