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Deloitte: Healthcare Industry Has Most Aggressive Plans in Place for Blockchain

December 19, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A new report from Deloitte found that the healthcare and life sciences industries have the most aggressive blockchain deployment plans of any sector, with 35 percent of surveyed respondents saying that their company plans to deploy the technology in production within the next calendar year.

According to the survey, blockchain technology—most commonly associated with digital currency and is a data structure that can be timed-stamped and signed using a private key to prevent tampering—is emerging as a key business focus for U.S. companies in many industries. As previously reported by Healthcare Informatics, applied to healthcare, it would offer the potential of a shared platform that decentralizes health data without compromising the security of sensitive information. This model could lift the costly burden of maintaining patient’s medical histories away from the hospitals.

But understanding of the technology is uneven, according to the Deloitte survey. For the research, Deloitte conducted an anonymous online survey of 308 blockchain-knowledgeable senior executives at organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenue, designed to better understand the corporate sentiment and activities surrounding blockchain technology.

Indeed, many senior executives still know little or nothing about it, while others place it among their company’s highest priorities. And commitments to blockchain vary by industry, the research found. Almost two in five (39 percent) of senior executives at large U.S. companies surveyed indicated they had little or no knowledge about blockchain technology. The majority (61 percent), though, claimed blockchain knowledge ranging from broad to expert. Many of these blockchain-informed executives see the technology as crucial for their company and their industry. Fifty-five percent of this group said their company would be at a competitive disadvantage if it failed to adopt the technology. Forty-two percent of those surveyed who claimed some knowledge of blockchain believe it will disrupt their industry.

The survey revealed that blockchain investment and adoption patterns may be more complex than many observers believe. For instance, despite the relative immaturity of the technology, 21 percent of blockchain-informed senior executives across a wide range of industries indicated that their firms have already brought blockchain into production, and 25 percent plan to do so within the next year. This progress around blockchain production is due in part to investments many companies say they have already made. Twenty-eight percent of these respondents reported that their companies have already invested $5 million or more in blockchain technology, with 10 percent investing $10 million or more.

According to the research, as with investments, the pace of blockchain technology deployment varies by industry, with technology, media and telecommunications; and consumer products and manufacturing in the lead. About 30 percent of respondents in those industries say their company has already brought blockchain into production. In contrast, just 12 percent of surveyed financial services company executives say their company has deployed blockchain in production. Surveyed financial services firms aim to pick up the pace: 24 percent say their companies plan to go live with blockchain in the coming year. Healthcare and life sciences have the most aggressive deployment plans of any industry: 35 percent of respondents in that industry say their company plans to deploy blockchain in production within the next calendar year.

And, while views on blockchain's primary value vary, there is rather more consensus about the main barriers to its widespread adoption. Per the survey, a crucial obstacle is the lack of technical standards in a still-immature technology. More than half (56 percent) of respondents believe technical standards would create a "tipping point" leading to widespread adoption. Another key barrier according the respondents is regulatory uncertainty.

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