BLOCKCHAIN LIVE 2018 – WHAT DID I LEARN?

2018-10-25

Healthcare Application, Business Strategy, Government

Kevin Kelly, Technical Systems Analyst, NHSBSA

Hi, I’m Kevin. I recently attended the Blockchain Live 2018 event, hosted in London. The aim of the event was to connect innovators, influencers and investors to aid the adoption and drive growth in the marketplace.

How? I’ll tell you in this blog post…

First things first, what is blockchain?

Prior to the event I had a basic understanding of blockchain technology. Mainly from the infamous Bitcoin stories I read about missed opportunities of making millions, or of some poor soul looking for a hard drive in a rubbish tip with a million in Bitcoins stored on it. Stories of how the ‘ledger’, ‘chain’ and ‘decentralisation’ could upset an entire industry made me both curious and skeptical.

Blockchain Live 2018 opened with a keynote speech from the sponsor, Brendan Blumer, CEO of Block.one. For anyone unsure what blockchain is, he summed it up like this, “Blockchain is to data, what regulation is to society”.

   

Onto the GovTech stage

The event had several stages focusing on different areas such as; innovation, government and investors. It also had booths from a vast range of companies in different sectors, from gambling to healthcare. I decided to focus my efforts on the government stage and health/medical booths.

There were some interesting talks from a range of speakers; the two which I got the most value from were as follows…

  • ‘What blockchain adoption is possible within 12 months?’ British Blockchain Association

The talk included examples of jurisdictions where blockchain had been adopted with different levels of success. It highlighted what challenges a business or government might face when enabling blockchain. I think using best practices and lessons learnt will be crucial to the success factor of an organisation becoming part of the blockchain “revolution”. It was empowering to see the possibilities within 12 months with a bit of dedication, risk taking and forward thinking.

  • ‘What’s blocking blockchain? Looking at Adoption Challenges Facing Government Departments’ HMRC

A UK government body developing a blockchain proof of concept (POC), I’m listening!

The use case involved tracking imports and exports at various UK sites, which was a repetitive, time consuming and costly process.

The POC included:

  • Private, permissioned blockchain
  • Holds full details of applications
  • Ledger of all audit/approval checks completed and outcomes
  • Deployed on UK hosted public cloud
  • Single node
  • User experience
  • User personas for case workers involved
  • Appropriate permission to control access

They realised the potential benefit and plan to move into phase two of the project, which includes increasing the number of servers and widening the reach. Phase three will involve looking at adding other government and private organisations to the chain. I’m watching this space…

 

Can blockchain benefit businesses?

Yes, from a technical perspective. A few benefits I learnt are as follows:

  • Greater transparency
  • Enhanced security
  • Improved traceability
  • Integration by design
  • Increased efficiency and speed
  • Reduced development and operation costs

 

What next?

The potential of blockchain is huge but like all new technology, hype can often be a bad omen! It has issues in some key areas, policy, adoption, fear and lack of understanding (which several speakers identified as their main blockers when starting on the journey). The technology is here, ready and willing, possibly not mature enough yet, but we as users or adopters aren’t quite there yet.

 

My final thoughts

After attending the event, I would still consider myself a newbie to blockchain, but I can see the potential benefit the technology offers. The NHSBSA delivers a wide range of national services for the NHS and I do believe that blockchain would be particularly useful due to our day to day operations.

I’m now more curious about the technology in healthcare and less skeptical about its potential.

Maybe one day…

NB: This blog post was originally posted on the NHSBSA’s blog and has, with the consent of the author, been reposted in its entirety.

If you wish to find out more about the work of the NHSBSA, please head over to their website or check out their twitter!

 

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