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Blockchain: Hype is Here, Use Cases Aren't


At HIMSS, healthtech experts had widely varying opinions on whether blockchain can actually do anything for the field.

At the annual HIMSS meeting, buzz is an abundant commodity. And this year in Las Vegas, Nevada, blockchain captured a lot of it.

Healthcare Analytics News™ tried to gauge whether experts across the healthtech industry felt that the blockchain would someday make a difference in healthcare.

Opinions varied widely. Take Morris Panner, for instance. He’s the CEO of Ambra Health, a medical imaging transfer company. For his work, the technology might be of value.

“It holds out the promise of a less-friction filled authentication and identification environment,” he said. “We've been in talks with people—and they're a little bit early—but about how integrate our exchange technology into that kind of frictionless exchange.”

Panner thinks that there could be plenty of applications, like patient identification or healthcare payment technologies.

“I think that blockchain is something that you've got to understand and that you've got to be aware of, and it's impossible to ignore the effort and energy going into it. I know it sounds a little trendy, but I think it's not overrated. I think people should really think about it and be focused on it,” Panner added.

Cris Ross, the chief information officer of the Mayo Clinic, wasn’t on the same page.

While he does cede that cryptocurrency is interesting and that blockchain might be applicable for securing transactional records, he responded emphatically when asked about the technology.

“Way overrated,” he said. “The problem with blockchain is it is being applied like a hammer, and every problem looks like a nail. I've heard blockchain [talked about] as the solution to everything from leprosy to the common cold to whatever problem you come up with.”

The 2 men did agree on something: blockchain has yet to find its use cases in healthcare. But if it never does, it won’t be for lack of trying.

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