You’ve probably heard the term “blockchain” at least a couple of times over the past year, but what does it mean, and how are organizations using it? The most obvious and well-known use for it is cryptocurrency, but it’s far from the only use of blockchain. We’ll delve into what blockchain technology is, how it is currently used, and how it might be used in the future.
What is Blockchain Technology?
In essence, a blockchain is a distributed ledger that builds a collection of records that is continually growing, all protected with encryption. By design, blockchains are meant to be resilient to edits and changes, making them quite reliable in terms of ensuring the integrity of these records. Each block (or node) of data has security measures to keep it from being changed, as well as timestamps for each record and information about the transaction. If a record needs to be altered, all subsequent records must also be altered, which requires the permission of the network majority.
How Is It Used?
Originally, blockchain was developed for cryptocurrency purposes, but the fact that it’s encrypted and resilient to changes makes blockchain ideal for other purposes. Public blockchains are used for cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to provide a distributed ledger, but it’s thought that private blockchain systems might be helpful for business purposes.
How Will It Be Used in the Future?
One of the most noteworthy ways that blockchain could be implemented in the future is the sharing of health records between various provider offices. Since it’s a distributed network, all doctors on someone’s medical plan would have access to the same unaltered data so they could provide the best service possible. Other opportunities for blockchain technology include a transparent ledger for public viewing, which has a wide range of uses for tracking payments for services rendered and other information.
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