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Author Q&A: The Blockchain Book for Healthcare

Peter B. Nichol, managing director of OROCA Innovations, is one of the world’s foremost experts in healthcare and blockchain technology. He is also the author of the recently released book “The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare.” In light of his expertise and the publication of this new book, here is a brief interview with Nichol on the current landscape for blockchain technology in healthcare as well as the trends he expects to see emerging in this budding space:

1. What prompted you to write this book and who is the audience?

While presenting on the topic of blockchain in Miami, Florida, USA, I polled the audience and posed three questions: (1) Who had read at least one article on blockchain? (2) Who thinks blockchain has value? (3) Who could explain blockchain to a friend?

At that moment something dawned on me. Even the most progressive executives didn’t understand blockchain technology, why it mattered or how leaders had applied this foundational technology to impact their business.

2. What are you trying to convey to the healthcare community?

Shortly after the conference, I decided I’d write the book “The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare” for healthcare leaders seeking to better understand blockchain and its impact within the healthcare setting.

3. Where is blockchain technology currently in its adoption trajectory within the healthcare industry? What will need to occur for full-on adoption?

Your first car probably didn’t have a rearview camera. Today, would you buy a car without one? Your first two-wheeled bike probably was one speed, and in 2017 very few buyers would intentionally shop for a single-speed mountain bike.

Education changes expectations, and expectations influence behaviors. Business leaders are still learning about blockchain technology. As business leaders are educated, the expectations they place on products, services and interactions will change. This isn’t only a consumer example — people don’t buy what they don't understand — but represented in the history of enterprise adoption.

Slowly, leaders are seeking out education that is changing behaviors. New information will eventually lead to revitalized business expectations from enterprise buyers. The new expectations will include the principles of blockchain-enabled technologies.

4. Can you give a brief case for blockchain technology's value on both the micro side (patients) and macro side (industry)?

Here’s one shift we’ll see in the future.

The tokenization of health transactions will quickly prove quite useful. Patients will have a provider token that is portable and validated. Providers will be able to differentiate between verified tokens and unverified, proving data authenticity prior to diagnosis and treatment.

5. What 2-3 trends do you believe will emerge in this intersection between blockchain technology and healthcare in the next 12–18 months?

Tokens will encapsulate value that can be sold. Portable healthcare data will be universally traded and exchanged in the form of tokens. The biggest consumer of blockchain technology won’t be humans but rather machines or intelligent agents. Smart contracts will redefine exchange-based marketplaces across healthcare, energy, finance and utilities. Health Funds will emerge taking the form of ICOs. These funds will be comprised of a portfolio of health tokens enabling the exchange of data. The tokens will represent the value of healthcare data (e.g., a set of healthcare events with associative data). This shift will represent the first currency, which is backed by the value of healthcare data.

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