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Blockchain In Healthcare and Health Sciences

Blockchain in Healthcare and Health Sciences

International Journal of Medical Informatics 06/04/2020

The technology of blockchain, with inherited characteristics such as decentralization, transparency and anonymization, was introduced in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in 2008 [1]. Bitcoin, with close to 400 million completed transactions (March 19, 2019) [2], represents a solid use-case that blockchain technology works. This has led to discussions and proposals that blockchain technology could be useful in a range of other data-driven domains, including healthcare [3].
According to IBM, 70 % of healthcare leaders predict that the greatest impact of blockchain within the health domain will be the improvement of clinical trial management, regulatory compliance and providing a decentralized framework for sharing electronic health records (EHR) [4]. Moreover, the global blockchain technology market in the healthcare industry is expected to cross $500 million by 2022 [61]. Although blockchain technology is considered to have the potential for real improvement of health information systems [3], the recent hype surrounding this technology similarly entails unrealistic proposals and ideas and current literature provides a little overview of applications that have been developed, tested and/or deployed.
It is valuable to investigate if the current research meets the expectations of blockchain technology within healthcare, health sciences and health education (from hereinafter, referred to as “the health domain”). This study aims to systematically review, assess and synthesize published peer-reviewed studies where blockchain has been utilized (or proposed to be utilized) to improve processes and services within the health domain. In addition to examining the evidence, we also aim to provide an overview of what has been done, what is known, and the potential directions forward on this topic.

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