The Case for Blockchain Technology for the Medical Device Supply Chain

2 min read

Boston Scientific supercharges its supply chain with IBM Cloud.

It started with a hypothesis. The team at Boston Scientific theorized that it could use blockchain technology to provide real-time information to key players across its medical device supply-chain network. Ultimately, Boston Scientific hoped to replace its manual approach to supplying and stocking its medical devices with its customers via an automated system that would enhance speed, transparency, and ease-of-use for all stakeholders.

Boston Scientific operations in Colombia, South America provide hospitals and clinics all over the country with medical devices and therapies, including stents and pacemakers. Medical personnel need these devices to be available all the time. Keeping stock at adequate levels is a constant balance of supply and demand.

Clinica Las Americas Auna is one of the hospitals that Boston Scientific serves. Its 300-bed facility in Medellín, Colombia, offers a variety of medical procedures. Dr. Juan Cendales, the clinic’s general manager at the time, and Andrés Angel, CEO of AUNA Colombia, enthusiastically welcomed the Boston Scientific blockchain proposal. 

Assembling the technical team

Boston Scientific connected with IBM Business Partner AOS International and Canadian logistics firm RoadLaunch. These two companies came together to create CORNERSTONE Blockchain Solutions in Colombia.

CORNERSTONE helped develop the pilot solution, a software as a service (SaaS) offering that resides exclusively on IBM Cloud. The solution takes data points – transactions, orders, and digitized documents – and mirrors them on smart contracts. The technical team was also able to add product scanning and other key integrations to the solution because IBM Cloud uses hyperledger fabric, an open source blockchain protocol. IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service is among the products providing security and stability while helping to orchestrate workloads and trusted data sources.

Radical changes

The solution has radically changed the way Clinica Las Americas Auna and Boston Scientific work together. Previously, the clinic managed hundreds of manual orders, related emails, and invoices each month. Today, the solution generates replacement orders automatically, eliminating that manual effort.

Furthermore, the blockchain pilot has reduced time between a new order to fulfillment from nearly a week down to an average of 36 hours.

The results of the pilot strongly support the original hypothesis — blockchain technology has radically enhanced efforts to keep essential medical devices and therapies ready for the patients who need them at Clinica Las Americas Auna.

Note: The COVID-19 pandemic began as we were developing this solution. Fortunately, we were able to complete the pilot without issue. Because this is a touch-free solution that simplifies and speeds up delivery of key medical devices, Dr. Angel and his colleagues at Clinica Las Americas Auna practice additional COVID-19-related safety precautions as they focus on battling the pandemic and saving patients’ lives. 

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