Most recently, IBM's Business Value team conducted a blockchain study surveying 200 healthcare executives – both payers and providers in 16 countries. They found that 16 percent aren’t just experimenting; they expect to have a commercial blockchain solution at scale in 2017. These Trailblazers are leading the charge with real-world blockchain applications that they expect to take down the frictions that hold them back.
Think for a second. How valuable would it be to have the full history of an individual’s health? What if every vital sign that has been recorded, all of the medicines taken, information associated with every doctor’s visit, illness, operation and more could be efficiently and accurately captured? The quality and coordination of care would be expected to rise, and the costs and risks likely to fall.
From the perspective of blockchain adoption, healthcare organizations are moving fast and even seem to have a lead on the financial industry. To our surprise, 16 percent of healthcare organizations are Trailblazers, ready to commercialize blockchains at scale in 2017 (see Figure 1). In other surveys of banks and financial market enterprises, just 15 percent and 14 percent respectively, plan to be at commercial scale in 2017.
So much healthcare data is digitized but not yet shared, and there are extensive regulations and risks associated with sharing it. It isn’t surprising that Trailblazers see the greatest impact from blockchains on those frictions we classified as information frictions – imperfect information, information risks and inaccessible information. They also view blockchains as a significant opportunity to enter once inaccessible markets (see Figure 3).
New Business Models Tuned To Trust
When data is trusted and protected, collaboration takes off. Blockchains could replace the intermediaries that once existed to secure this data, perform these tasks. Smaller organizations could join ecosystems to take on larger competitors. Private sector participants could gain access to and create new sources of data, whether that’s wellness data streaming from personal devices or information collected by home caregivers.
More than any of the industries they have surveyed to date, healthcare Trailblazers see a broad array of opportunity to substantially innovate in the years to come. More than seven in ten Trailblazers expect significant business model innovation in six of the nine areas we surveyed.