Blockchain, Decentralization and its impact on Insurance and HealthCare - Part 2
Author: Arshad Sarfarz Ariff, Technology Architect
In my previous blog, "Blockchain, Decentralization and its impact on Insurance and HealthCare - Part 1", we explored the notion of Smart Contracts, Oracles and Dapps and how they can empower the insurance and HealthCare industries. In this blog, we will look at how Ethereum provides a platform for developers to build applications easily and sample use case on how a Dapp would provide value spanning multiple industries.
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts on a custom-built Blockchain with the vision to serve as a platform for the creation of Dapps. The Smart Contracts will be executed on an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) whereas the Front End will be hosted on distributed Storage called Swarm. Both EVM and Swarm are decentralized technologies running on hundreds of nodes participating in the Ethereum network.
The example of Flight insurance mentioned above is already available as a Dapp running on Ethereum using an Oracle called Oraclize that fetches data using external API provided by Flight statistics.
Startups are already working on Dapps created on Ethereum that aspires to solve the problem of isolated data silos pertaining to patient records haunting the healthcare industry. These Dapps are expected to put an end to the interoperability problem in Healthcare without comprising compliance by enabling Patient records to be shared securely across the entire health care network involving Health care providers, Hospitals and Patients.
Embracement from Insurance and Healthcare players:
Aegon, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich have launched the Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative B3i aiming to explore the potential of Blockchain technology to better serve clients through faster, more convenient and secure services.
"Hashed Health consortium" has been formed with the mission of bringing together leading healthcare enterprises in order to advance Blockchain solutions that address the unique issues and regulatory regimes of the healthcare industry.
"Hyperledger Healthcare Working Group" has also been formed to house and foster technical and business-level conversation about appropriate applications for Blockchain technology in the healthcare industry.
In future, we can expect Blockchain Dapps that would span across industries. Here is an example scenario covering Insurance, Healthcare, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Banking, Shipping and Port Authorities. Herbal plants grown in a Farm in India can be shipped to China for manufacturing medicines on behalf of a Pharmaceutical company running in UK. This would involve Smart Contracts between the Pharmaceutical Company in UK, the Manufacturer in china, Farm Owner in India, the shipping company and the port authorities in the respective countries. Different set of Smart Contracts would also exist between Pharmaceutical Company, Insurance providers, Health care providers and government agencies like FDA.
Executing Smart Contracts on Blockchain would provide new plethora of information and minimizes the cost among the stakeholders besides delighting the customers.
- Agreements between parties spanning geographies can be easily executed at low cost and minimal effort without the need for any Trust.
- The cost and effort spent on adhering to government regulations would be minimized due to information made transparent and secure on the Blockchain.
- Fake medicines can be easily identified, as the Smart contracts would reveal the complete lifecycle starting from the source to the destination.
- Health care provider, payer, patients and governments would have complete gamut of information starting from ingredients gone into the production until delivery. Though contracts would reveal the parties and the products involved, confidential information between the different parties would still be private. For example, the pharmaceutical company could be a selling an antidote at a special price with a particular hospital or vendor and at a standard price with others. Smart contracts would keep this information private between the applicable parties.
Conclusion:Blockchain and Decentralization are reinventing the way business is conducted and industries like Healthcare and Insurance will leave no stone unturned in applying Blockchain to their Business. This marvel has opened the doors for new set of application development creating market and demand for new set of skills making it imperative for enterprises and software service providers to set foot on the chain early in the race.