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Blockchain’s Big win for Healthcare: HUN

Prepared by Colin Platt
Posted January 2, 2019

Blockchain technology is potentially game-changing for not one or two industries, but the complete outlook of how we perceive the global business landscape. When 200 healthcare executives were interviewed, 16 percent expected to discover a commercial blockchain solution at scale sometime this year or next year. The key performers for blockchain adoption will be industry groups, regulators, and market makers. Securing and managing data within healthcare and supply chain management are two great examples of major concepts influencing and being impacted by conceivable blockchain adoption.

Despite initial enthusiasm, the healthcare industry has lagged behind other industries in blockchain adoption.


IBM’s HUN – Big Win for Blockchain in Healthcare

Initially, the healthcare industry, similar to other industries, focused on delivering specific blockchain use cases first, each with its own application and network. However, to get competitors to collaborate with this approach was quite difficult.

Owing to the lessons learned from early blockchain work in the healthcare industry and the industry’s unique nature, IBM established the Health Utility Network (HUN).


What is HUN?

HUN refers to a blockchain-based ecosystem for the healthcare sector that incorporates a platform + network design. Rather than building a network for one use case, the intent is to fabricate a network for a platform that can scale for several use cases. In this prototype, a collaborative entity will stand up a blockchain-based platform and an inclusive, open, ecosystem upon which everyone will concoct solutions.

Platform-based solutions will leverage the data collected by the network. The network is pre-competitive, and consequently, it can and will benefit all parties involved. At its core, the network has a set of fundamental rules: a governance practice for how data gets exchanged across the network, how participants join, and how to adhere to regulatory compliance. Then there’s the platform, on which all interested parties will both consume and develop applications. The network, as a non-profit, will have expenses that will be sustained by a percentage of revenue from the platform and its apps.

This shift from the use case first technique has made blockchain a desirable investment and enables competing solution providers to enter a network and strive together for profit. The platform expands the scope beyond blockchain to carry applications leveraging technology like robotic process automation and cognitive computing. A recent IBV study entails the importance of thinking just beyond the first use case and the steps crucial to designing successful blockchain networks.


What to Expect? blockchain and healthcare

At the moment, the HUN network is in the formation phase, focused on establishing procedures and policies. When HUN goes into production later in the phase, the plan is to make the network accessible to any organisation that wishes to benefit from participation, ideally expanding to one day include all healthcare providers and consumers worldwide.

The use cases being prioritised, currently, are efficiency and back-office based, with a focus on refining processes by streamlining and decreasing expenses. These are conventional use cases that can prove the efficacy of blockchain right out of the gate. Once HUN has established its value, the hope is to expand the platform to be more revolutionary for the industry.

For example, HUN may one day streamline the patient’s experience by transferring records between providers with their consent, removing the need for the patient to fill in the same details repeatedly. Before long, patients would be able to see the journey of their data across a network that encompasses all healthcare providers and consumers on a global scale

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