by Janet Boachie, Republic Venture Associate

During my graduate studies in Social Entrepreneurship at USC Marshall, I took an elective called Digital Strategies for Sustainability in Global Emerging Markets, a class that focused on applying tech-enabled business strategies for sustainability in a global environment. For the semester team consulting project, I worked with a wireless technology company on integrating blockchain technology into their operations.

To be honest, I had no clue what I was in for when learning about blockchain; however, since the end of the class I've always wondered how blockchain would be useful in the healthcare industry. My initial research showed several discussions; but now, I'm seeing more startups develop in this space.

Here's my deep dive (and first shot!) on what I'm seeing in the bridging between healthcare focused tech companies and blockchain technology.

Health technology, or health tech, is an umbrella term for disruptive hardware and software solutions that connect and empower people and populations to manage health and wellness, augmented by accessible and supportive provider teams that strategically leverage digital tools, technologies and services to discover new treatments and ultimately, transform care delivery.

Health tech is one of the fastest growing industries, and what's even better is that healthcare leaders are continuing to develop care delivery models that focus heavily on the patient experience and journey, especially for those who are underserved/underinsured, and live in rural communities. From wearable devices, to conversational AI healthcare chatbots, to care management systems, the health tech industry is giving way for meeting patients where they are and at the right time.

However, here's the issue...

The COVID-19 pandemic shed some serious light on the limitations, burdens, inefficiencies and disparities that exist within our healthcare system. On the other hand, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the development and evolution of new technologies that are set to further push change within the healthcare industry.

One of the newest technologies where its adoption within health tech growing to is blockchain technology. With healthcare being a data-intensive industry, blockchain technology is revolutionizing the way that health data is stored and transmitted.

Blockchain, Real Quick

Blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network.

Sometimes, when we think of blockchain, we think of Bitcoin, Ethereum, other Altcoins, and NFTs; however, blockchain can be used to record any number of data points across any industry immutably. As someone from IBM mentioned, "Think of blockchain as an operating system, such as Microsoft Windows or MacOS, and bitcoin as one of the many applications that can be run on that operating system." For example, the real estate industry is embracing blockchain by digitizing and tokenizing assets, and blockchain can also be used to track the provenance of food – from farm to plate.