Awareness of blockchain technology: a survey among students of the Zagreb Medical School

[Speaker] Igor Radanovic:1
[Co-author] Deni Rkman:1, Robert Likic:1,2
1:University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Croatia, 2:Clinical Hospital Centre Zagreb, Croatia

INTRODUCTION: Blockchain is an immutable, unforgeable, decentralized public registry of ownership secured through cryptography. Although mainly used for digital currencies, it seems that it could significantly impact healthcare, pharmaceutical industry and drug supply chain management. Our aim was to investigate awareness of blockchain technology among medical students at the Zagreb Medical School.
MATERIALS & METHODS: Anonymous paper-based survey was distributed in December 2017 to 300 fifth-year medical students at the Zagreb Medical School. Online version of the questionnaire was sent to students who could not participate in the paper-based version.
RESULTS: The questionnaire response rate was 49%. Most surveyed students have never heard about blockchain (75.4%), with only 15.1% reporting as being aware of it. Only a few students were keeping up to date with the technology or have read more about it (3.4% and 6.2% respectively). There were 61.4% of female and 38.6% of male responders, with male students reporting being significantly more familiar with this technology (p=0.02, Pearson chi-square test). We analyzed the blockchain savvy student group further. Of those, 11.1% considered blockchain the same as Bitcoin. Less than half of participants correctly answered that multiple people can access blockchain simultaneously and that blockchain records cannot be altered (both 40.0%). Possibility of automatic transactions was recognized by 70.6%, while 45.7% of students were aware that blockchain can be both public and private. Majority of informed students (57.1%) thought that blockchain will have an impact on everyday life in several years, 20.0% considered that technology would remain in use only in a few industries, while 5.7% believed that it was just a temporary thing. Furthermore, 17.1% thought that blockchain is already changing everyday life. Finally, 74.3% of students familiar with technology deem blockchain application feasible in medicine and healthcare in the future.
CONCLUSION: Most of our students were not familiar with blockchain. Furthermore, lack of knowledge is also apparent in the more informed student group. We believe more time is necessary for users to familiarize themselves with this technology, however awareness should increase, with blockchain based applications becoming more prevalent and further development accelerating in this field.
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