In November 2017, the second annual Distributed: Health conference was held in Nashville, Tenn. The conference provides a forum for healthcare leaders around the world to explore how blockchain technology is transforming the industry. Together, the brightest minds in healthcare innovation and blockchain technology discover the ways blockchain can streamline and transform every aspect of the medical space. The success of the conference \u2014 and its very existence \u2014 is a testament to healthcare\u2019s growing interest in blockchain. Which made us wonder: what is it about the healthcare industry that\u2019s driving blockchain adoption, and where do we see the technology going? It\u2019s all about the data In recent years, we\u2019ve seen exponential growth in health data. Experts predict that the volume of data will swell to 2,314 Exabytes by 2020. If that data was stored on tablet computers stacked on top of each other, the pile would tower more than 82,000 miles high! That\u2019s more than a third of the way to the moon! There are a lot of challenges when it comes to the liquidity of this data \u2014 and they\u2019ll only become greater as the data increases. For starters, there\u2019s a lack of interoperability. In other words, data is siloed between EMR systems that don\u2019t talk to each other. Then there\u2019s security: the complexity of the current system makes it a natural target for cyber attacks. Healthcare data is extremely layered, with a lot of institutions involved, and a lot of personal information at stake. That information is more valuable to fraudsters than credit card data, and it\u2019s purchasable on the black market. Security issues contribute to another problem: accessibility. In part because of privacy concerns, it\u2019s almost impossible to get real-time data. Sometimes, it\u2019s a matter of minutes \u2014 but it can take days or weeks. Many systems still rely on batch processing, which further hampers accessibility.\u00a0 Costs are a problem, too. Experts estimate that up to 12 percent of healthcare spending is directed toward administrative and financial expenses. Neil de Crescenzo, the CEO of Change Healthcare, made a strong statement during his keynote speech at Distributed: Health: \u201cWe need to think more broadly about healthcare data and apply new technology, like blockchain, to make our healthcare system operate at scale.\u201d\u00a0 When applied to healthcare, blockchain\u2019s many attributes could deliver powerful, viable solutions to the industry\u2019s data-related challenges, while streamlining existing processes. Those attributes include: \tDisintermediation and trustless exchange: One of the top costs related to healthcare data is creating clean and accurate data. With blockchain, all participants are operating on the same data. The network becomes an incentive, preventing bad data from being entered into the system. \tLongevity: Blockchain data is reliable and durable. \tProcess integrity and transparency: All participants will understand the entire transaction history, enabling bundling of payments. \tEcosystem simplification \tMore sophisticated real-time analytics. \tLower transaction costs. Blockchain is now being introduced as a core capability of an intelligent healthcare network. Recently, Change Healthcare announced that its network will adopt the Linux Foundation\u2019s Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 \u2014 an open source framework \u2014 for blockchain application design and development. The Change network, which processes 12 billion transactions annually annually, says it will support blockchain technology by the end of 2017. For Change, the goal is to increase payment accuracy and revenue velocity to the benefit of payers, providers, and consumers. Neil says that Change will initially develop a private blockchain because that\u2019s what customers are ready for. The next phase of their roadmap will develop a permissions-based blockchain, and then public blockchain. As the market matures, Neil hopes to move to a public, read\/write blockchain. The path isn\u2019t easy As with any new technology, the adoption of blockchain comes with its own set challenges.\u201c\u00a0 This is a journey, and we\u2019re trying to take a first step,\u201d said de Crescenzo. \u201cHowever, there are some headwinds that need to be overcome for blockchain to be truly pervasive in the industry.\u201d Those \u201cheadwinds\u201d include: \tLingering security concerns \tInsufficiently scalable performance \tToo few nodes in network \tOn-chain vs off-chain data \tCultural opposition to sharing data \tRegulatory uncertainty But both healthcare and blockchain leaders are confident that those issues are surmountable. The reality is that blockchain is no longer a hypothetical; it\u2019s not something to hope for. It\u2019s happening in healthcare \u2014 and in a lot of other spaces, too. As long as investment, collaboration, and innovation in blockchain continue, the technology will become foundational in helping people to maintain and enhance their health, and at the end of the day, isn't that what healthcare is supposed to be about?