Accenture: Blockchain innovations in life sciences
What if innovations in the life sciences supply chain kept up with innovations in medicines and treatments? This is the question posed by consultants Accenture in a new report which focuses on how blockchain could create a ‘digital passport’ for healthcare in the future.
According to Accenture’s report, In blockchain we trust: transforming the life sciences supply chain, blockchain is becoming increasingly relevant to address the challenges of trust and speed when dealing with medicine.
One of the most complex life sciences supply chain challenges has been the ability to effectively track the origin of a product (or therapy) from raw materials to the finished product.
“Blockchain technology is an ideal solution, given that no single organisation is responsible for provenance. Blockchain enables the idea of a “digital passport” for a product, containing all relevant information for each component or ingredient, including instructions and patient adherence information from the packaging,” commented Accenture.
“Innovative therapies challenge the traditional life sciences supply chain, increasing the need for secure and authenticated drugs that are delivered without delay and kept at a verifiable temperature. The right treatment needs to be delivered to the right patient at the right time, all through a secure supply chain,” outlines the report.
According to Accenture, within the next three years, 30% of life sciences companies plan to utilise blockchain to open new business opportunities.
“Supply chain applications of blockchain are endless for life sciences companies given the requirements for specialised medicines and therapies. Those that start now - who are willing to experiment, fail fast and innovate based on that experience - will be the organisations to achieve competitive advantage and improve patient outcomes.”
Blockchain is protected by cryptography, that allows a network of nodes to maintain a shared ledger of information which guarantees that, as long as the majority of the network validates the entries ( the blocks) posted to the ledger (the chain) the information can be trusted.
“Blockchain’s ability to generate trust and create the right permissions around the sharing of data allows life sciences companies to break through some of those commercial challenges, enabling better traceability,” commented Accenture.
There are several types of blockchains for the life sciences supply chain, depending on the types of permissions among those sharing information, they include:
Public, permissionless blockchains - this allows access to any user at any time, ledger management is facilitated by the distributed network (Bitcoin or Ethereum)
Federated, permissioned blockchains – this allows access to users based on the rules defined by the consortium in the network (Ripple, R3 or Corda)
Private, permissioned blockchains – this allows access to users based on the permissions set by the private network, ledger management is facilitated by single company for private use (Chain or Bankchain)
“Once all the product data in the supply chain is stored in the blockchain, life sciences organisations will be able to target patients with far more relevant information, such as product availability, detailed product information, and specific product history.
The ability to tie the patient to the product will not only increase patient satisfaction, but ultimately their ability to manage their own health for better outcomes. Inevitably, blockchain will more effectively deliver personalised medicines to patients in the right setting at the right times, with the right dose,” commented Accenture.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”