The digital transformation has brought many technologies for the industries that help enhance organizations’ performance, transparency, and security levels. Blockchain is one of these inventions.
It was introduced over a decade ago, and now it is not only used for cryptocurrency platforms, but it has also evolved into something more significant with the powers to change the rules and introduce new ways for cooperation.
As a result, enterprises seem to be more interested than ever in blockchain technology and demonstrate this by implementing it as part of their ordinary course of business. The pharmaceutical industry is not an exception.
According to Statista estimations, general international spendings on blockchain solutions is expected to rise to $5.9 billion by 2023.
In addition, Deloitte has provided a survey on the use of this innovation, and 83% of respondents said their businesses would lose their competitive advantage if they don’t adopt blockchain.
At the same time, 90% of the survey respondents agree that this digital asset will play a meaningful role in their enterprise.
In the meantime, the system is mainly associated with cryptocurrency, but pharmaceutical companies start investing in this asset, as the solutions will bring numerous advantages in the long run.
What is Blockchain? Key Advantages
A blockchain is a distinct type of database that stores collected data in blocks that are then chained together. When new data fills the block, it is chained onto the previous block.
Thus, the data is stored chronologically. What is more, data entered into blocks cannot be changed, which makes the solution irrevocable.
It allows for the secure management of a shared ledger, where operations are verified and stored on a system without a central governing authority.
The solution can come in different configurations, ranging from public, open-source systems to private ones that require explicit permission to read or write.
Blockchain technology has several significant advantages:
- Security: data added to the section cannot be changed. All the financial operations are encrypted and linked to the previous block. Thus, it becomes easier to trace back the operations and eliminates attempts of fraud.
- Transparency: The database operation ledge is open to public viewing, making the systems that run on blockchain technology transparently. There is no need to request evaluation or verification of the information from third parties.
- Traceability: it makes it easier to trace where the goods come from.
- Efficiency and Speed: the platform facilitates and makes financial operations faster. Its scattered nature removes the need for third parties when it comes to payments.
- Automation: operations can be automated by “smart contracts” that reduce human interventions and reliance on third parties to verify whether all the participants follow the contract terms.
The benefits of the solution speak for themselves. The pharma industry is one of the fields that work with loads of data, whether it is drug development, research, and testing, or distribution to pharmacies.
Therefore, the advantages of the solution can help the industry overcome some of the most crucial challenges in the field.
How Is Blockchain Used in the Pharmaceutical Industry?
The pharma industry faces several challenges that require solutions in the nearest future, as the global pandemic has revealed how disrupting these challenges are for the smooth performance of the organizations engaged in the process.
Blockchain in pharma has a broad scope of application based on the number of advantages the solution has.
There are several potential uses of blockchain technology in the industry: it can facilitate access to the medical records for physicians, patients, etc.; enhance the supply chain, clinical trial data reporting, vendor credentialing, drug pricing strategy tracking, etc.
Companies have started to work on these challenges, and this how the solution can help transform their businesses.
Supply Chain Enhancement
The enhancement of the supply chain within the field is one of the main concerns for companies. The solution is beneficial in this case as it can ensure fast and secure transactions/operations across the globe.
In addition, companies can use this asset to establish auditable trials and medicine origins along the supply chain. It means that everyone from manufacturers to clients could verify the source of the drug, its development process, quality, and delivery conditions in a safe environment.
The supply chain under consideration is complex and involves numerous parties. The technology allows creating a safe environment that can be managed with one piece of software.
In addition, the solution promotes transparency and security, as this type of database is distributed. The parties involved in the supply chain should all follow the established protocol of the system, so they will be able to review, share, and update data and be sure that the information is up-to-date and provided on time.
The platform usage will help companies reduce the number of frauds found on the market, as the parties could control the process of medicine development from end to end.
As the surveys show, one out of ten drugs that are presented on the market is fake. The number is even more significant in third-world countries.
Thus, the implementation of distributed systems will help humanity on the global level by enhancing the performance of the enterprises and the quality of their products. In the future, it would result in better medical treatments and a reduction of fatal cases. Also, it will result in enforced trust and transparency.
The solution has the potential to enhance the performance of clinical trials. The platform’s nature is unchangeable, ensuring that clinical trials and protocols are strictly maintained and followed.
The platform is a secure environment that cannot be hacked. Therefore, it can give people participating in trials more confidence, and they will be more enthusiastic about participating in studies of the new drugs.
As the system is distributed across various parties, and it is almost impossible to decode the block’s hash, the system stays secure. Even if a part of the architecture is hacked, the information will not disappear, as other parties contain it.
Therefore, it can assure privacy and accuracy of clinical trial data. In addition to this, stakeholders can create public registries to access the results of clinical trials.
Patient Data Management
In the future, it is expected that systems based on the technology will be able to facilitate the patients’ data management and distribution across different providers, from insurance organizations to research ones.
Patients will have the right to control access to their personal data and share only relevant inputs from their accounts.
What is more, a platform will serve as a database to track and store patients’ information, so organizations across the whole healthcare system could use a single identifier to see needed information.
The proper integration of the technology into the supply chain will give businesses better control and management of their inventory. For example, it can be automated to send out requests for more drug products in demand.
The technology can also help to over hurdles in the R&D cycle. It has the potential to improve the drug discovery and development process, as it facilitates collaboration between organizations in the industry and academic ones, as well as philanthropic groups.
For instance, “smart contracts” will reduce the time to market the new medicine, as businesses will not need additional resources to participate in the process (banks, lawyers, etc.).
Combining the technology with AI, ML, and NLP will result in better data mining and analysis of the existing literature or patent applications.
In addition to this, the security provided by the technology has advantages for intellectual property protection, ensuring that new research data and findings cannot be hacked.
Blockchain and pharmaceuticals can go together, as the solution proves to be beneficial for the industry, and the implementation of the solutions is only at its early changes. Therefore, there is much more to discover and investigate in this field.
Things to Consider When Implementing Blockchain in Pharmaceuticals
Businesses in pharma and other industries should know why they need to use the solution for their organization and how blockchain development will evaluate their performance.
There are several things that enterprises should consider before they start the implementation process.
- Analyze opportunities: investigate the existing options of the technology implementation, including other fields like banking or insurance. You should know how effective are the current use cases and choose the most suitable one for your company.
- Evaluate resources: the development and implementation processes are not easy ones. They require professional knowledge and experience. Thus, if your company lacks needed resources, consider hiring external teams with experience developing platforms of this type. Numerous vendors offer their services, and you can hire them offshore. But in this case, the main requirements to the vendors should be reliability, availability of the resources, previous portfolios, and references from previous customers. Do not fall for low prices, as you can get a low-quality product that will not cover your needs.
- Identify the areas of enhancement: know which part of the organization needs improvement. This stage requires analyzing your needs and organizing them for the technology. Identify your own use case, and it will help you clarify the goals you want to achieve and then build the next steps around it.
- Develop PoC: it is essential to determine whether it is feasible and functional to execute the task at this stage. PoC will guide you through the rest stages of the implementation process, as it is a sketch or outline of how the solution can be successfully implemented in your organization’s environment.
- Choose the right platform: nowadays, there are several networks where you can start adopting the technology, including Ethereum, Corda, Hyperledger, etc.
- Build and Test the Solution: it is crucial to test the solution fully and see how it works in the real world.
- Deployment: the next step is to deploy the solution on the network.
The implementation of blockchain in pharmaceuticals has only started, and still, there is a lot to investigate. However, a developed platform can change how organizations communicate and work with each other and how they deliver the services to the customers.
Therefore, companies should consider this solution and start to analyze how it can improve their workflow. Vendors that provide healthcare IT solutions and software services know how to develop and implement solutions to enhance enterprise performance over the industry.
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