The year 2017 witnessed a
definite push for blockchain in UAE. Dubai Future Foundation, a government organization
set up to shape the future of the strategic sectors in cooperation with
government and private sector, established The Global Blockchain Council in
2016 to promote innovation and use the next generation blockchain technologies
to enhance UAE’s position as a leading centre for innovation and knowledge
economy. It consists of 46 member companies including Microsoft, SAP, IBM,
Cisco, TECOM, Infosys, and Etheruem.
What is blockchain?
If you are still wondering
what blockchain is, let me open the Pandora’s Box for you. Blockchain is a
digital ledger in which transactions made in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency
are recorded chronologically and publicly. Sounds cool, right?
Blockchain, a boon for the bleeding healthcare industry
Companies such as Google,
Tesla, Nissan, General Motors are focusing on building more efficient electric
cars, driverless cars and beyond. However, there is a strong need to focus on
efficient use of Blockchain outside of financial sector. According to Market
Research Future, an Indian research company, the global market of Big Data in
Healthcare industry is forecasted to reach at $35 billion by 2021. This is
simply owing to technology development in Internet of Things and Big Data. The
artificial intelligence market in the Middle East and Africa was estimated to
be worth around $66mn in 2017 according to Statista, one of the leading
statistics company. Imagine what blockchain can do for healthcare when combined
with Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Wearable technology and Big
The UNLOCK Blockchain Forum held last week in Dubai saw startup
sessions on what blockchain is doing for healthcare sector. UAE’s health care
sector is poised to record a growth of 60 percent in next four years to Dh103
million by 2021, according to a latest research by Mena Research Partners. However,
cost management still remains the biggest issue in healthcare for Middle East.
Expensive medical equipments, experienced doctors, costly land has made a huge
dent and resulted in massive lay-offs and lack of expansion plans. Use of blockchain
in Middle East can resolve various problems in healthcare industry such as international
supply chain management and payments, development of smart contracts, and medical
insurance payments with costs savings of more than 30%. This will completely
resolve all sort of cash handling and cash management costs.
Hichem Maya, head of
industries at SAP MENA said, “We
see blockchain as an enabler to do business in a different way in a more
trusted way and more transparent way and being able to address domains that
currently are costly by reducing costs, increasing transparency and reduce
errors. It’s a very bold statement to become a blockchain hub and Dubai is very
visionary. Revealing this statement will catalyse everybody to conform
themselves with it and apply it and drive towards having different entities
running on blockchain.”
Healthcare sector in Middle
East can also raise funds using blockchain and Initial Coin Offering (ICO), a
method typically used by startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated
capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks. Maintenance
of confidential public health records will be real-time and very efficient with
the help of blockchain combined with cloud technology. A study by IBM’s
Institute for Business Value (IBV) found nine out of 10 government organisations
plan to invest in blockchain for use cases ranging from financial transaction
management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliance by
2018. One of the biggest and costliest activities for healthcare industry is
regulatory compliance. Blockchain in compliance can be easily managed with the
help of digital contracts and compliance framework. Hospitals can also manage
and track retail insurance and credibility of individuals.
Coping up with loss of public data
An issue that almost every
country faces is data loss and data theft. With cloudfare technology on
blockchain, a highly secure platform, public health records can be maintained
very confidentially. For example, if you edit your records on a platform, they
will be verified and approved by your doctors and nurses using blockchain. Getting
a small prescription drug and checking whether your insurance company will
cover the cost or not is possible with the potential of blockchain too.
Sounds unrealistic? Not really!
Telecom giant Du with the help
of Guardtime, a company that implemented blockchain technology in Estonia, already
partnered with NMC Healthcare almost a year ago to revamp Electronic Health
Records (EHR) by adding a layer of security with the use of blockchain. This
also helped in patient record management and examining real-time detailed patient
history more efficiently at a much lesser cost.
In short, we are seeing a
plethora of ways in which blockchain technology can impact the healthcare in
2018. In fact, the Government of Dubai announced its intention to turn itself
into the first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020.
How much of this will be achieved this year is
something only time will tell. We are just hoping blockchain saves more of our
time, energy and money.