Much has been said about blockchain’s potential to enhance security of data management and sharing. Gartner has gone so far to say it’s overhyped at the moment; yet IBM and other tech firms are bent on turning the promise of cryptographic ledger technology into real-world efficiencies in healthcare and beyond.Blockchain’s growing list of innovative use cases already includes optimisation of supply chain and revenue cycle processes. Tracking prescription and population health data is a new addition to that list.Mining of big data is increasingly used by medical institutions to identify and help solve public health issues. Big Blue is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a new project to make use of longitudinal data to help stem the widening opioid epidemic.Fast Company reported that IBM, together with CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, has made strides developing a blockchain-enabled health surveillance system that makes it easier for public health agencies to survey hospitals and physicians about their patients and prescription practices. The work has included surveys to collect data on patients seeking care and how doctors prescribe antibiotics and opioids.IBM isn’t the only company convinced of blockchain’s ability to combat opioid addiction. This spring, for instance, Intel embarked on innovating another approach to fighting prescription drug abuse, Bloomberg reported on Intel’s work. It is believed that digital currencies are partly to blame for aggravating the opioid crisis because they make it easier to buy and sell drugs anonymously.In a pilot project with pharma industry giants (including McKesson and Johnson & Johnson), Intel is developing ways to deploy blockchain as a means to better trace how pills are distributed from point to point.

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