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In Russia, a New Call for Nationwide Blockchain Healthcare Project

In Russia, a New Call for Nationwide Blockchain Healthcare Project

Northwestern Russia’s Novgorod region, which is running a pilot blockchain project related to pharmaceutical supply chains, has called for adopting the initiative on a national scale.

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Novgorod Authorities Say Project Should Go National

The region’s governor Andrey Nikitin has sent a letter to the country’s health ministry, claiming that the blockchain project could significantly improve transparency in the industry, Russian business daily Kommersant reported.

Under the pilot project executed in collaboration with the blockchain “competence center” at the state-run financing bank VEB, a blockchain is used to track the supply chain for select medicines at Novgorodian hospital’s rheumatology, hematology, and pulmonology divisions, as well as for medicines used for treatment of specific diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

Currently, the scheme is applied to expensive medicines in the range of 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles ($15,250 USD to $22,900) a year per patient, but could be extended to cheaper medicines, as well.

Nikitin was quoted as saying that thanks to blockchain, the entire supply chain can be controlled, ruling out “any possibility for manipulations, when a certain amount of a medicine it prescribed, but the patient ends up receiving a different amount.”

Novgorod officials think blockchain would bring transparency to national healthcare.

For years, there have been complaints about irregularities and lack of transparency in the state-controlled medicine distribution system.

Now, information from the blockchain is sent to the regional division of Russia’s healthcare watchdog Roszdravnadzor, the healthcare department of the local government, and other interested agencies. Patients can also have access to the supply chain data of medicines prescribed to them.

What’s Next?

The health ministry is yet to respond to Novgorod’s initiative.

Meanwhile, the region is preparing to launch another blockchain project focused on tracking the origin of medicines based on labeling. The scheme is scheduled to be launched in 2019 and is expected to save the local budget 30 million rubles ($458,000) a year with an investment of 5 million rubles ($76,300).

VEB’s blockchain competence center was created a year ago with a goal of introducing blockchain into Russia’s public sector. The Novgorod healthcare projects is one in a series of similar schemes carried out in the country’s various regions.

However, nationwide scaling of the medical supply chain project could hit a road bump as not all Russian public hospitals and clinics have an internet connection. By a presidential decree, internet should be available at all public healthcare institutions by the end of this year, but officials admit that the year end deadline is likely to be missed.

What’s your take? Is blockchain a good or bad fit for healthcare logistics? Let us know where you stand in the comments section below.

Images via Pixabay

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