Blockchain is here to stay. The biggest companies in the world are investing millions of dollars in the technology. It's time to get on board or get left behind.
If you're in the pharmaceutical industry, blockchain could be a game changer for your business. The technology provides several key advantages that will make your business secure, fast, and efficient.
In this article, we'll start by going over the blockchain basics, then we'll talk about the advantages to using blockchain, and finally, we'll talk about how to use blockchain in the pharmaceutical industry. So read on and learn everything you need to know about this revolutionary technology.
Blockchain isn't as complicated as it sounds. Here are the basics
What Does a Blockchain Look Like?
Blockchain is a database technology; it's a way of storing data.
But this isn't your parents' database. A blockchain is a distributed database, often set up across thousands of computers all over the world.
Each of these computers, known as nodes, contain a copy of a "blockchain" which contains all the database's data. The basic unit of the blockchain is a block. And each block holds transactions (you can think of transactions as the base unit of information in the database).
These blocks are linked together, one after the other, in chronological order. The first block holds the oldest transactions, and the last block holds the most recent transactions. These blocks will never change once they're created.
And that's it. Transactions are stored in blocks, blocks are stored on the blockchain, and the blockchain is stored on a network of computers. Simple, right?
So, how do you add new information to the blockchain?
How Does a Blockchain Work?
When you add a new transaction to a blockchain, it doesn't immediately join a block. Because you can't change an existing block, these new transactions have to wait for a new block to be created.
How do you create a new block? You "mine" it.
Every node in the system is constantly competing to mine new blocks. To mine a block, a node has to guess a specific number before any of the other nodes. (Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, but we're not going to worry about the technical details in this article).
Once a node mines a new block, it adds all the new transactions to the block and tells all the other nodes in the network to add the new block to their blockchain. Every node will have the same blockchain as every other node.
The blockchain system will adjust the difficulty of the guessing problem so that it always takes the same amount of time to mine a new block.
If you've heard of Bitcoin mining, it's the same concept. Bitcoin miners receive Bitcoin every time they mine a new block. This gives them an incentive to put computational power toward mining.
But for pharmaceutical applications, you'd likely have a private blockchain made up of privately held servers. In which case, mining is less computationally intensive (due to the lack of competition) and doesn't require payment.
You could use a public blockchain, but you'd need to come up with a way to compensate miners.
Advantages of Blockchain Technology
What's the point of this complicated architecture? It provides a variety of advantages that will revolutionize data management. Here are just a few.
You Can't Hack a Blockchain
Mining isn't a pointless exercise. It provides real security to your blockchain.
In theory, a hacker could add flawed information to the blockchain by creating false blocks. To add those blocks, they'd need to win the mining race.
But mining is difficult, and it's difficult for just that reason. No node can win on purpose, they'd have to get lucky to win at the right time. And they'd have to win multiple times in a row to carry out a successful attack.
Once you create a block, no one can change it. A blockchain gives you a record of all transactions going back to the beginning of the blockchain.
And because the blockchain is unhackable, you know the information is valid.
If one of the nodes in your network goes down, your blockchain will continue functioning without any issues. This also means that there's no central hub for hackers to attack. And there's no central bureaucracy monitoring transactions and slowing things down.
Most blockchains add new blocks every ten minutes or so. And once a transaction is a few blocks deep in the blockchain, you can almost guarantee that it's legitimate.
That means you only need thirty or forty minutes to verify a transaction.
Blockchain technology promises to make the pharmaceutical industry more efficient in several key ways.
Most importantly, it will allow pharmaceutical companies to track drugs throughout the supply chain. You can record every movement of every chemical as a separate transaction blockchain.
This will make it easier to keep track of drugs and identify supply chain issues. But it will also make it much easier to comply with the European Union's Falsified Medicines Directive. Starting in 2019, this law will force companies to serialize all drugs to prevent counterfeits.
Researchers will also be able to use blockchain technology to keep track of clinical trial information. Currently, this information is often lost or unreported. But by adding it to a blockchain, it will be easy to access and permanent.
The applications don't end there. This is a new technology and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to use it every day. Be creative and find your own use-cases.
Now that you know the blockchain basics, it's time to get in the game. Blockchain is the technology of the future; stay ahead of the competition and jump on board today.
We want to help you take advantage of your own blockchain solution. Contact us and let's set up a consultation today.