Can Blockchain Revolutionize Healthcare?



Blockchain technology, the decade’s most promising advance in the encryption of financial transactions, bodes well as a catalyst in changing industry after industry. But how can it be put to best use in healthcare?

“Too often, tech people think blockchain will work for healthcare, but they design it incorrectly,” says Timothy K. Mackey, UC San Diego Extension’s director of Healthcare Research and Policy. “We want people to understand that health care is unique. You have to think about it first before you apply the technology.”

That’s the approach taken by Extension’s Blockchain Applications for Healthcare certificate, offered in conjunction with UC San Diego School of Medicine. The 11-unit program, about a year in length, is part of Extension’s expanding healthcare and tech portfolio.

The certificate is meant for business managers in allied health professions, not programmers. When certificate holders inevitably receive a pitch from a blockchain startup, they’ll be able to assess whether it’s right for their applications, Mackey says.

Much of the hype around blockchain has centered on the speculation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in the hopes of making a quick fortune. “We don’t focus on cryptocurrency,” Mackey says. “We focus on business blockchain, with the aim of trying to improve business processes.”

When created with a mind toward specific ends in health care, blockchain could be a game changer in the areas of patient privacy, drug chain supply, genomics, digital health identity, clinical research, and patient provider directories.

“We’re going to look at the challenges and really think about design. We’re in the middle of an inflection point, so it’s a great time not to sell people on blockchain, but to educate people on how it can relate to health care,” notes Mackey. 

This story first appeared in UC San Diego Extension's Summer 2019 edition of Accelerate Magazine, produced in collaboration with San Diego Magazine. Read more from Extension including being part of the solution to the opioid crisis, the power of storytelling, how to adapt to life’s challenges, or you can check out the latest edition.

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Posted: 2/11/2020 12:18:20 PM by StephanieStevens | with 0 comments
Filed under: blockchain, healthcare, health-care, privacy, research, technology


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