Indiana University Health, WakeMed testing blockchain to track specialty prescriptions

blockchain technology
As part of an FDA-approved pilot, two health systems will test blockchain and internet of things technology to track and verify specialty drug prescriptions across three states. (LuckyStep48/Getty Images)

Indiana University Health and Raleigh, North Carolina-based WakeMed Health & Hospitals have teamed up with blockchain and pharmacy companies to better track specialty prescription drugs.

The multistate pilot, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will use blockchain-enabled data tracking technology to target intra- and inter-health system medication transport and usage in North Carolina, Indiana and Tennessee.

The organizations are focused on improving supply monitoring to enhance quality control of medicine, provide data for more targeted inventory and recall management and save lives, the organizations said in a press release.

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The group will test implementation of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) starting in August. 

Healthcare blockchain company Rymedi and Zebra Technologies' Temptime, a developer of temperature monitoring devices for the healthcare industry, will work with the health systems as well as Good Shepherd Pharmacy and the Center for Supply Chain Studies and the Global Health Policy Institute to test the application of blockchain and Internet of Things technology to monitor specialty medication distribution across supply chains.

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As part of the pilot, WakeMed and Indiana University Health will implement the blockchain technology to track specialty medicines across provider locations within their networks, as well as transfers to other provider networks, as is commonly done to address regional inventory shortages. 

According to the organizations, the connected health infrastructure that will be developed as part of this pilot advances emerging best practices for healthcare system data sharing and coordination. 

"Blockchain technology provides a platform to innovate healthcare delivery, and we are proud to be part of the collaborative effort to enhance interoperability for the benefit of patients," Diana Rhyne, executive director for WakeMed Innovations, said in a statement. "Its applications have the potential to make a positive impact across the full spectrum of the healthcare continuum—from data integrity and pharmaceutical supply chain to improved patient safety and health outcomes."

Using blockchain technology, Rymedi's data platform provides immutable supply genealogy and multi-partner data access to track medicines from wholesale distributors and third-party logistics providers. 

RELATED: Industry Voices—Why blockchain is the healthcare disrupter we’ve been waiting for

Good Shepherd Pharmacy and its associated RemediChain project will apply the solution to medicine transfers to connect patients unable to afford specialty and rare disease medications with donated medications, all while assuring patients, regulators and providers of the origin and quality of the donated medicines. 

The Center for Supply Chain Studies and the Global Health Policy Institute at the University of California, San Diego will provide design and evaluation support to optimize the pilot's impact on policy and industry standards development, the organizations said.

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