Here at RH Strategic, we’re always looking for the latest disruptive technology that challenges the status quo; in our opinion, blockchain fits the bill.
Blockchain has immense potential to shake up all industries, including security and healthcare. As strategic PR professionals, we keep our eyes open for these forward-thinking technologies in order to prepare our clients for any impacts on the market and media landscape.
What is blockchain anyway?
Blockchain’s roots originated with Bitcoin, as it serves as the underlying technology enabling Bitcoin transactions. Blockchain’s value lies in the fact that it helps to ensure trust when multiple parties are making a transaction involving something of value – including money, goods, and property. According to Factcom CEO Peter Kirby, blockchain is “a giant accounting ledger that everybody agrees to but nobody owns.” Put more simply, “blockchain is to Bitcoin, what the internet is to email. A big electronic system, on top of which you can build applications. Currency is just one,” writes Financial Times reporter Sally Davies.
Check out this quick, 2-minute video which gives a nice explanation:
Why does it matter?
Blockchain matters because it’s a technology so advanced and revolutionary, that it will inevitably change the way we conduct all sorts of transactions, making them more secure and dramatically reducing instances of fraud. Thanks to the decentralized nature of a blockchain and powerful cryptography, the technology is incredibly secure. Consider this excerpt from Blockchain Product Designer Collin Thompson:
“Hacking attacks that commonly impact large centralized intermediaries like banks would be virtually impossible to pull off in the blockchain. For example — if someone wanted to hack into a particular block in a blockchain, a hacker would not only need to hack into that specific block, but all of the proceeding blocks going back the entire history of that blockchain. And they would need to do it on every ledger in the network, which could be millions, simultaneously.”
Secure? You bet.
What are some potential applications for it?
For healthcare, blockchain might be a solution to the ever-present challenge of efficiently moving patient data between various parties that need access to it. While healthcare data might be easier to access than ever, it’s still not easily (or safely) shared, especially between all the different systems and technologies that exist. This creates unnecessary work and inefficiencies for health systems that impact patient experiences and contributes to rising burnout rates for doctors. Because it can help keep data secure and appropriately distributed, blockchain is an ideal fit for health networks sharing and accessing patient health histories. There’s some momentum already, as a recent study by IBM found that 16 percent of health care executives plan to implement some sort of blockchain solution by the end of year. For more, check out this piece from Megan Molteni at WIRED.
In cybersecurity, blockchain can alleviate the stress of centralized points of failure that have plagued the information security community for decades. The approach taken by blockchain enables storing and sharing of data in a safer and more distributed way, alleviating pressure on security practitioners if implemented. The October DYN DDoS attack illustrated just how easily hackers could attack a single service that provides DNS for myriad websites. A blockchain approach to storing those DNS entries could theoretically alleviate this issue by preventing hackers from being able to zero in on one system. For more on this, check out this helpful write-up from Ben Dickson.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm providing strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, public sector and healthcare markets.