Since blockchain was introduced through Bitcoin, research has been ongoing to extend its applications to non-financial use cases. Healthcare is one industry in which blockchain is expected to have significant impacts. Research in this area is relatively new but growing rapidly; so, health informatics researchers and practitioners are always struggling to keep pace with research progress in this area. This paper reports on a systematic review of the ongoing research in the application of blockchain technology in healthcare. The research methodology is based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines and a systematic mapping study process, in which a well-designed search protocol is used to search four scientific databases, to identify, extract and analyze all relevant publications. The review shows that a number of studies have proposed different use cases for the application of blockchain in healthcare; however, there is a lack of adequate prototype implementations and studies to characterize the effectiveness of these proposed use cases. The review further highlights the state-of-the-art in the development of blockchain applications for healthcare, their limitations and the areas for future research. To this end, therefore, there is still the need for more research to better understand, characterize and evaluate the utility of blockchain in healthcare.
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