Blockchain in Healthcare: A Case Study of Cancer Treatment

Jonas Ritter Jürgensen, Magnus Aagaard Löchte & Simon Kastor Nielsen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The Danish healthcare is constantly expected to improve its performance. However, the necessary cautious approach, when engaging with emerging technologies combined with the pursuit of improvement through technological developments, complicates this quest for efficiency significantly. This study sets out to examine the benefits of blockchain technology and how these can create value for healthcare in a case handling context, by contextualizing the findings within cancer treatment in Denmark. In order to facilitate the study, a literature review of the benefits of blockchain is conducted, the theory of value-based healthcare is used to explain value for healthcare, and a process-oriented framework for assessing the business value of IT is used to further explain the created value. The study is of an explorative nature and designed as a qualitative single-case study adopting an interpretivist approach, while utilizing interviews for inductive reasoning. What was discovered is that blockchain entails the ability to increase efficiency, data quality, auditability, privacy, security and trust. Furthermore, utilizing blockchain technology as a mechanism for managing data and processes in an efficient and secure way, can be leveraged to create a value enabling IT platform. By establishing an interoperable IT system architecture for medical data based on blockchain, decentralized applications with embedded smart contract functionality can be developed on top and run seamlessly. Future examples could be templates for different diseases that, with programmable logic, defines and executes the logical order of subsequent activities, with the ability to extract and present relevant information to the appropriate actors. Thereby, blockchain can be utilized to aggregate information around the patient while preventing fragmentation of essential information. Furthermore, blockchain can enable a continuous updated and complete overview of the information about the patient, and thereby establish a basis for better decision making, ultimately increasing the value for patients and thereby create value for healthcare. This study thereby contributes to academia by expanding the knowledge of the vastly unexplored relationship between blockchain technology and healthcare in a case handling context. Moreover, by providing suggestive changes that potentially solves important problems and as well as by facilitating the cross-fertilization of ideas, the study demonstrates a distinct contribution to practice. Finally, by displaying the indicative value of blockchain, the scene is set for further research on how to apply blockchain in healthcare, as its case handling capabilities might lead to full integration of public and private hospitals and the many actors within healthcare services once the technology matures.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages142
SupervisorsMichel Avital