At its most simple, blockchain technology is a tool that can transparently and securely coordinate the exchange of ideas and assets. It offers a strength-in-numbers approach that comes without the cost or inefficiency of relying on a third party.
There’s a lot to like about blockchain, and much of the glue that holds our society together is quickly embracing its efficiencies in the name of the greater good. Global transactions in banking, personal identification, and even healthcare are already boarding the blockchain bandwagon.
What blockchain means for pharma
The shift to a blockchain mindset is happening in our industry now, albeit slowly and cautiously. Today companies are using blockchain to impact the management of EMRs, gene therapy logistics tracking and validations, epidemiology analytics, and even disease management. A great example of how one Specialty Pharmacy could soon benefit from this technology is profiled in this article in Specialty Pharmacy Times.
But the blockchain evolution has only just begun.
A lack of transparency in the US Healthcare system has fostered tension and even open hostility between key stakeholders – payers, pharma, providers, and patients. The open yet secure nature of blockchain technologies could potentially ease tensions and find savings to the benefit of all.
In the near future, blockchains will prove to be a powerful tool for any and all pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors that record sensitive information, like patient health data, in a permanent and incorruptible way. The technology also stands to allow the industry to become more efficient and secure in key areas like supply chain management, smart/value-based contracts, clinical trials, drug safety, and inventory management.
Of course, blockchain isn’t good for everyone…
The only obvious losers in the blockchain evolution will be middlemen.
In today’s ecosystem, middlemen generate revenue from assets, regardless of the value provided. In a fully empowered blockchain world, these middlemen are either eliminated or forced to be completely transparent via the structure of each unique blockchain protocol design and application, all of which are securely governed by smart contracts. This, in turn, requires that Fair Market Value (FMV) be equitably realized for services rendered.
So, should you start incorporating blockchain thinking into your strategic planning?
Today, the answer is that it depends. Only you know your company’s appetite for forward thinking. Some organizations want to blaze the trail with blockchain so that they have input into the design and implementation that may impact us all. Others see the application of blockchain as premature.
If you’re one of the innovators, we’re here to help. We recently completed a course at the University of Oxford to better advise our clients on this evolving technology. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more.