Distributed: Health Propels the Adoption of Blockchain Technology in Healthcare
As the second day of Distributed: Health concluded, attendees were left with a handful of solutions to explore, dozens of questions to ponder and countless new connections to pursue.
The conference, which enjoyed its third year of bringing healthcare executives and decentralizing technologists together at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN, featured keynote presentations from legacy leaders like former senator Bill Frist, panel discussions from industry stalwarts like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and blockchain-powered announcements from pioneers like Change Healthcare.
More than 700 registered attendees absorbed information, asked questions and interfaced with one another to form the building blocks that will carry the healthcare industry into its next iteration. About 30 developers attended an accompanying code camp today to sharpen their blockchain coding skills and, eventually, put decentralizing ideas into practice.
“Healthcare Is Ripe for Disruption”
The event opened on Monday with welcome remarks and a fireside chat led by former medical practitioner, Tennessee senator and House Majority Leader Bill Frist. He leveraged his experience as both a provider and regulator to describe Nashville’s unique position in the healthcare atmosphere (where the industry has a $38.8 billion impact, per at least one estimation ) and the industry’s dire need for fundamental change.
“Right now, healthcare is ripe for disruption like no other industry,” Frist said. “The reason is, we have very, very, very high cost, which the typical consumer can’t afford, and we have uneven access. … When you have high cost and you have uneven access, the macro environment for disruption is huge. And that’s where blockchain [technology] is.”
Inviting Michael Painter, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to join him in a fireside chat, Frist expanded on the need for blockchain solutions in healthcare, pointing out that the first step to addressing issues like healthcare disparity and encouraging healthy lifestyles more broadly will be collecting and leveraging data in a decentralized way.
“Without access to current, real data that can be trusted, that is privacy protected, that is distributed … we can’t make any real progress,” Frist said. “Blockchain [technology] has the opportunity … to address one of those basic needs of society. Which is to make sure that our children have a better life, have better health, than we have.”
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