Talking Blockchain in Healthcare with TIBCO CTO Nelson Petracek

TIBCO Blockchain in Healthcare
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This article first ran in The Australian on March 30, 2020, and has been republished to the TIBCO blog with permission from the original source.
Author: David Swan, Technology Editor, The Australian

Blockchain has the ability to help the healthcare industry automate and cut down its processes, which can help it in turn save costs that can be funnelled back into important patient care, according to one of the top executives from US cloud computing specialists TIBCO.

TIBCO chief technology officer Nelson Petracek told The Australian that despite a decline in search traffic for blockchain across the board, now was the time for the technology to prove itself in important ways, like in the healthcare sector.

As reported in The Australian today, blockchain is the top ‘hard skill’ when it comes to current technology job opportunities. Blockchain is a distributed, decentralised, public ledger; a system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network.

Mr Petracek said that despite an overall downturn the ACT had spiked in searches for blockchain, which was likely driven by government interest in the technology following the publication of Australia’s National Blockchain Roadmap.

“The fact that this was done by the government likely also triggered some interest among blockchain-related technology companies to see what business opportunities the roadmap might present to industry,” he said, adding that the finance industry was also showing heavy interest given it’s under increased pressure to reduce fraudulent activity and restrict money laundering activities.

“Blockchain is often touted as a potential solution to these business problems, and given that many organisations in the Asia Pacific region have at least conducted initial POCs with the technology, the combination of government attention, public facing banking issues, and some experience with the technology has led to renewed interest beyond the initial hype,” he said.

According to Mr Petracek, the healthcare industry is also experiencing increased attention when it comes to the cost of healthcare, even before the COVID-19 crisis.

“There is pressure on the cost of healthcare as well as the management and governance of personal information,” he said.

“We have, of course, the health pandemic of today, which is severely stressing global healthcare systems, but even before this situation became a crisis, the need to provide better healthcare at a lower cost was receiving more attention.

“Again, given the applicability of blockchain in this area (as a potential partial solution to certain types of problems), and the intersection with government involvement and technology experiences, blockchain has received renewed interest.”

“These areas are driving more interest in blockchain technology, design and application of blockchain as governments – and not just early adopters – need to clearly understand the technology and its impacts on legislation and regulation.”

Mr Petracek said Australia has taken a leadership position with its blockchain roadmap, which lays out ideas about industry and educational institutions might collaborate with government when it comes to healthcare.

The roadmap was released last month and focuses on three main areas: “regulation and standards;” “skills, capability and innovation;” and “international investment and collaboration.”

“I think it will be looked at as an example of what other countries could do,” Mr Petracek said. “Especially with Australia being in the middle of Asia Pacific, I think you have a fair amount of activity and investment in places like China for example.

“That means Australia is going to have to be a bit more on the cutting edge in terms of understanding the technology and where it could be applied, but there is an opportunity to be a leader in this space and help define how it can work.

“There is a real opportunity for Australia to lead.”