Blockchain Technology: Moving Beyond Bitcoin

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Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency run on a network called blockchain. Blockchain technology enables the tracking and recording of assets within a business network. While many assets -- physical and virtual -- can be traded and tracked through Blockchain, the most popular asset thus far is Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This decentralized digital currency runs on blockchain, allowing for safe and secure transactions of the cryptocurrency.

The sharp rises and falls in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have dominated the conversation on blockchain assets, although their valuations have little to do with the actual blockchain network they run on. Rises and falls in cryptocurrency value can be attributed almost solely on human behavior, whereas blockchain is extremely secure. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been leading the blockchain discussion, we wanted to take a look at other applications of the blockchain and how industries can utilize this technology going forward.

The Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry has been booming with new technologies and much needed updates. Several players in technology are incorporating blockchain within their health tech innovations as a secure method for recording and tracking assets.

Back in 2013, the FDA signed the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) into law, requiring a track and trace serial number that can follow the drug throughout the supply chain. Healthcare startup MediLedger is a blockchain based network for the pharmaceutical industry that leveraged a  blockchain solution to allow for better tracking of prescription medicine. MediLedger is working to improve compliance of track and trace regulations of pharmaceuticals and improve patient safety, all through the use of a blockchain based network. A blockchain solution allows for more accuracy and compliance throughout the supply chain.

Another healthcare focused company utilizing blockchain is ConnectingCare. ConnectingCare utilizes Blockchain for its core function -- to create an audit trail. Various providers can join the network and view information about their patients. This increases patient safety, as each of the patient’s providers is able to update records and record medical information that can be securely viewed by the patient’s other caregivers. This HIPAA-compliant audit trail utilizing a blockchain infrastructure is aiming to lower the cost of care for patients while improving patient outcomes.

Cloud Storage Solutions

Cloud storage company, Storj, is differentiating itself from the cloud competition by introducing a distributed blockchain protected cloud storage service. This peer-to-peer network of storage allows users to store data in the cloud using Blockchain and heavy encryption.The data in the cloud is broken up, encrypted and distributed to several different hard drives, rather than all of the data going to one place like traditional cloud storage. Data is kept secure with each user having the “key” to their own data. Blockchain is leveraged in this cloud storage solution through transaction ledger and public and private key encryption.

With this technology, Storj claims they are more secure and faster than competing cloud providers, so it will be interesting to see if they are able to capture a piece of the rapidly growing cloud market or if any other major cloud providers come to incorporate blockchain in the future.   

Contract Solutions

Contracts are commonplace in nearly every business entity. Typically sent via email, users will sign and scan back the contract as it makes its way to all of the necessary parties. The main concern with this is security and control, which is where one startup found they could utilize blockchain to create a better solution. Chronicled automates the contract process through digital signatures and a higher level of tracking and management of the contract by leveraging a blockchain network. This is helping businesses ensure higher levels of security and control of the supply chain when sending out contracts.

The Robomed Network has also adopted a blockchain network for the contracting aspect of their healthcare startup. Issuing a “smart contract” between healthcare providers and patients, providers get paid for positive healthcare outcomes among patients. This is aiding in the much desired shift to a value based healthcare market and has gained popularity in Asia markets.

Moving Beyond Bitcoin

While we can not be sure what the future holds for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, we can be quite sure that blockchain technologies will continue to touch and innovate on several different industries. Blockchain provides an incredibly secure network for distributing and tracking data, so it will only be a matter of time before this piece of technology becomes a talking point of its own outside of Bitcoin.




Edited by Mandi Nowitz
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