Health disparities remain vast around the world and are perpetuated by error-prone information technology systems, administrative inefficiencies and wasteful global health spending. Blockchain technology is a novel, distributed peer-to-peer ledger technology that uses unique, immutable and time-stamped blocks of records or sets of data that are linked as chains through cryptography to more reliably and transparently store and transfer data. Various industries have successfully leveraged blockchain technology to disintermediate and reduce costs, but its use in healthcare and global health has remained limited. In this narrative review, we describe blockchain technology and elaborate on the experiences and opportunities for leveraging blockchain within global health in terms of cryptocurrencies and health financing, supply chain management, health records, identification and verification, telehealth and misinformation. We conclude each section with an analysis of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic to highlight blockchain’s unique opportunities for improving healthcare services and access to care during future pandemics or natural disasters.
- global health
- health care quality
- access and evaluation
- health care economics and organisations
- health care facilities
- manpower and services
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Contributors DV: conceptualisation, writing, review, revisions, approval. CRG: writing, review, revisions, approval. AWP: writing, review, revisions, approval.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.