Analyst says blockchain technology could help clinical trials

Blockchain Bonanza

Caron Dhillon, a health care analyst at Results Healthcare, believes that the use of blockchain technology could solve many of the challenges of the clinical trials process, according to an article in Outsourcing Pharma by Melissa Fassbender.

As Fassbender said, the technology enables “real-time visibility into the entire clinical trial supply chain.” When data is entered into a blockchain, it “cannot be deleted and all changes are tracked.” Because of this accountability, there is value throughout the supply chain -- drug safety, patient safety, and clinical trials management.

Dhillon explained that “blockchain technology has the potential to help solve many challenges facing the clinical trials process, such as accurately reproducing and sharing data, privacy concerns, and patient enrollment strategies. Perhaps most importantly, through its ability to track events in chronological order and with full transparency, blockchain allows for high level of data authenticity throughout the whole document flow in a clinical trial, ensuring trust of the data and its integrity.”

Blockchain might be able to facilitate communication between physicians and patients at the time of the clinical trial by means of smart contracts,” according to Dhillon, who thinks that it may “promote transparency and traceability throughout the process.” Block chain may also help to solve what could be one of the biggest challenges of clinical trials: patient enrollment. Dhillon, who believes that blockchain could help companies to improve the quality and quantity of patients available to participate, added, “A majority of patients have no idea that these clinical trials are even in operation, or that they could benefit from the treatments on offer.”

As she said, “In theory, patients could store medical data anonymously in individual transactions on the blockchain, visible only to trial recruiters, who could then reach out to patients if their data qualifies for the trial – this being incredibly beneficial to both the scientists conducting the trial and patients who are struggling to find viable treatment options.”

Acknowledging that the implementation of blockchain is still in the very early phases within the drug industry, Dhillon said that more than 60 percent of pharmaceutical executives are planning to implement a blockchain solution in the coming years, but “the exact process of how this can be done is still widely under discussion.” In addition, in contract research and manufacturing organizations, blockchain is in such early stages of implementation that the companies have made any major acquisitions. Other kinds of providers, including Certara, Alpha Genesis, and Scientist.com, have used blockchain technology as part of various functions in their companies.

Results Healthcare has projected that the blockchain market could soon see merger and acquisition activity, because private equity companies have expressed interest in the laboratory automation market and cloud-based solutions. BIS Research has estimate that blockchain technology in health care will expand to more than $5.61 billion by the end of 2025. Because of this growth, venture capital firms and investors are beginning to show interest in the blockchain technology phenomenon.