Blockchain: The future for healthcare in Germany?

Blockchain is to be used in the healthcare industry. The Federal Ministry of Health has launched a competition to find projects that will reduce the number of counterfeit prescriptions. The competition entries show that blockchain can be used in many ways in the healthcare sector.

In the competition ideas and solutions were searched, which are developed to a business model and then for Blockchain applications in the German health service to serve are. Ideas from these different areas were presented: Organ and tissue donor registers, rights, and identity management as well as the area of consent declarations.

The projects presented are intended to ensure the secure digital transmission of the declaration of incapacity to work, the security against manipulation of narcotics as well as data protection for patient consent. Electronic patient files and document management systems were not allowed to be used for the company’s own projects in this competition.

Blockchain in healthcare

The Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers considers the blockchain to be paradoxical in the healthcare industry, as the blockchain was initially developed as a transparent system. If, however, an encryption of the information can be achieved, then it would be possible for Blockchain to be used in the health sector.

Blockchain has a high level of protection against forgery, as the continuously updating data records are linked together by a cryptographic process. The high level of protection against forgery lies in the fact that all data records are linked together, which means that it is not possible to change the data records without making them visible, since the entire data chain would be affected.

The first place of the competition went to a blockchain solution for the narcotics area. The digital procedure, based on a private blockchain between doctors, pharmacies, and supervisory authorities, is intended to enable joint digital administration of prescriptions.

Use of blockchain in the USA

From November this year, manufacturers in the USA will have to check the authenticity of the withdrawn medicines under the Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). In Germany, the securPharm system has been doing this since 9 February 2019.

In the USA, it will hardly be possible for all retailers to connect their systems to each individual system of their supplying pharmaceutical manufacturers, which is why pharmaceutical manufacturers want to record the required serial numbers on the packaging via blockchain to enable decentralized verification.

“Blockchain technologies are used to electronically sign and mathematically guarantee transactions in the pharmaceutical supply chain,” says Marc Gardette, Director of the Public Sector at Microsoft France. Blockchain is currently not an issue for the tracking of individual drug packages in Europe, but it offers an opportunity for the topics targeted by the competition.

by Sophie Polanik

More Pharma News