Half of health orgs working on blockchain? PwC says it's true

PwC's research is the latest evidence to suggest that now is the time to start blockchain projects or risk falling behind competitors that transform their operations with distributed digital ledger technology.
Blockchain has gained more traction than it might appear. That's the top takeaway from a new PwC report, whose most telling statistic is that 49 percent of global healthcare companies are already undertaking blockchain initiatives.
That finding might be something of a surprise, but PwC is not alone in saying that blockchain is coming and hospitals and systems need to prepare now.
Earlier this year, in fact, both Gartner and IDC shared their own advice about blockchain. Gartner noted that CIOs should consider blockchain or risk being left behind by competitors that move first. IDC recommended beginning by accounting for the pros and cons, pushing for blockchain interoperability among providers and patients and deciding whether to use a public blockchain or opt to keep it private.
In the PwC report, A Prescription for Blockchain and Healthcare: Reinvent or be Reinvented, researchers said the 49 percent of the global 74 healthcare companies it contacted includes those developing, implementing or piloting blockchain projects.
Back in May, Deloitte proclaimed that despite skepticism concerning scalability, security and sustainability, blockchain is gaining traction.
Chilmark Research analysts, meanwhile, pointed to blockchain's potential as "transformational infrastructure" for sharing data, improving quality, even enhancing data privacy.
Blockchain, of course, still has plenty of major challenges.
PwC found that 61 percent of respondents said lack of blockchain expertise is holding them back, 47 percent cited lack of trust as a barrier, 39 percent said the same of regulatory uncertainty, 37 percent consider an inability to bring the network together as problematic.
What's more, 36 percent listed blockchain interoperability and 33 percent said the inability to scale are inhibitors – while "31 percent told PwC that cast was the primary reason their organization had not progressed further with blockchain."
"Blockchain-based technologies offer substantial opportunities to reinvent how healthcare companies access, collect, distribute, share, leverage, monitor and audit data," according to the PwC report.
That's the upside. An underlying reality also exists that healthcare organizations waiting to move on blockchain may find themselves too far behind to catch up easily.
"Not all companies will benefit," researchers wrote. "Middlemen may become obsolete. Companies that are slow to change may lose out to ones that use the technology to cut costs and increase efficiencies."
With Deloitte, IDC, Gartner, Chilmark and others making similar assertions, PwC's report is further proof that blockchain is much more than just hype. If your hospital or health system is in a state of blockchain inertia, now would be a good time to snap out of it.
At the very least, get an understanding of the potential use cases: Read about how distributed ledger can help with the pharmacy supply chain and the ongoing patient matching problem, to name just two. And then determine when, where and how to invest in blockchain. Or for a bit of fun check out our Mad Libs for blockchain: Fill in the blanks now to avoid mistakes before it's too late