The healthcare system in many countries is under extreme strain, where every stakeholder, from healthcare providers to insurers, drug companies and most of all patients, all suffer as a result. Though there are many culprits, the root of the problem is our industrial-age thinking about delivering healthcare, where data is hoarded, patients are assumed to be ignorant, and where healthcare is only available when you’re in the system. This leads to costly and ineffective care. Blockchain promises to change that. We can fix healthcare by basing it on a set of new principles — collaboration, openness, and integrity, and where the patient co-creates their own data with full transparency into it.

Patients and frontline health care providers are separated by a labyrinth of relationships between jurisdictions, professional services, specialists, and other providers. The digital processes used are really for the logistics of handling paper documents. There are several paper trails per doctor-patient or patient-provider interaction, and lots of data entry duplication.

The process is the same as before anyone had ever heard about a computer, except the information moves into separate data silos much faster. In short, a lot of time and effort goes into managing data between organizations.

Another way to put this is that we used to expend energy maintaining databases. The invention of blockchains means we can move beyond the simple custodianship of a database and turn our energies to how we use and manipulate databases — less about maintaining a database, more about managing a system of record.