John Halamka to lead new peer-reviewed blockchain journal

The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO named top editor for publication that will highlight positive and negative experiences with the digital ledger tech.
By Bernie Monegain
12:29 PM
Halamka to steer new blockchain journal

John D. Halamka, MD, has just added blockchain to a growing portfolio of healthcare IT work he has taken over the years.

The founders of a new peer-reviewed online journal “Blockchain in Healthcare Today” have named Halamka editor-in-chief.

Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, a practicing emergency physician, Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network, is not one to shy away from a challenge, especially when the promise is big. His expectations for blockchain are high.

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Blockchain provides a tamperproof public ledger, operating in a decentralized and highly resilient fashion, Halamka wrote in an email to Healthcare IT News, noting that many startups and innovators have suggested blockchain has the potential to revolutionize interoperability and workflow in many industries – including healthcare. 

Halamka believes in that potential, and he points out there has not yet been a forum for discussing positive and negative experiences with blockchain in healthcare.  

“This peer-reviewed journal will provide that opportunity,” he wrote.   

“I can think of several use cases in which blockchain would be helpful to guarantee the integrity of medical records,” he added. “I can also think of use cases in which relational, NoSQL, and Hadoop/Cassandra technologies are more appropriate.”

As he sees it, the journal will provide independent commentary from industry experts, academics, and government leaders that should inform all stakeholders about appropriate uses of blockchain.

[Also: Blockchain beyond EHRs: Transforming value-based payment, precision medicine, patient-centric care]

The journal will provide independent commentary from industry experts, academics, and government leaders aimed at informing all stakeholders about appropriate uses of blockchain.

“We are poised at the foot of a precipice,” Tory Cenaj, founder, and publisher of the journal, stated in a news release. “Blockchain technology challenges us with an opportunity to demonstrate the inequality and inefficiency of legacy systems, frustrations on front lines honoring the Hippocratic Oath, and elevate care excellence, and the health and wellness of global health citizenry.”

Cenaj called blockchain “a turning point for both healthcare and civilization."

Gil Alterovitz, editorial board steward of the publication, and part of the Harvard Medical School faculty applauded Halamka for his approach to various problems.

“His innovative thinking has already disrupted several fields,” Alterovitz said. “As a nationally recognized innovator in the burgeoning blockchain space, he embodies the vision and energy required to move the sector forward.”

In March this year, Halamka wrote a Harvard Business Review article, with Andrew Lippman and Ariel Ekblaw, titled “The Potential for Blockchain to Transform Electronic Health Records,” in which he described the promise of blockchain I healthcare.

Blockchain in Healthcare Today is accepting manuscript submissions. The premier issue is scheduled for January 2018. The deadline for original research is Dec. 15, 2017. Contact the publisher with inquiries at

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