The Five A’s of Blockchain: Blockchain Explained

Introducing the Five A’s of Blockchain, as a part of our Blockchain Explained series.

Understanding blockchain may seem daunting at times, but having a general understanding is key to knowing how we are using this technology in the PharmaLedger project. There are many benefits to applying blockchain in healthcare, as well as many challenges to overcome. The PharmaLedger consortium is working together to apply a blockchain-based platform through eight use cases. We aim to pave the way for a more trusted digital healthcare ecosystem using this technology.

In an effort to strengthen the paradigm shift necessary for blockchain to make real lasting change, we introduce to you the 5 A’s of blockchain as a simple way to help grasp the fundamentals of this technology. 

The Five A’s of Blockchain


Also known as “Distributed Ledger Technology,” or DLT, blockchain was designed as a way to manage the transfer of assets. Apart from well-known cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, assets can also include practically anything of value (think of NFTs: Non-Fungible Tokens). Data stored or anchored on a blockchain can also be an asset such as information about where a certain product is in a supply chain (for transparency purposes) or health data from patients. 


This term means that nothing can be changed in terms of data stored on a blockchain, meaning it is immutable. Immutability is one of the most important features of blockchain technology and is especially important in a regulated industry with strong government oversight such as healthcare.  But more importantly, without immutability, you cannot have trust. No one would have any confidence to engage in blockchain solutions if there was some way or someone who could change the “source of truth.” 

You can read our definition of assets, immutability, blockchain technology, healthcare ecosystem, trust & transparency in our #Hashing it Out: Blockchain Terms Explained article below.


Automation includes many concepts of digital transformation, such as eliminating current paper-based processes, executing predefined “Smart Contracts” based on agreed inputs, reducing human interventions and avoiding reconciliation steps. Automating manual processes helps in making operations more efficient.


Data confidentiality such as enterprise or individual data privacy falls under anonymisation. Blockchain can help ensure compliance in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is especially crucial when dealing with health records and keeping patients’ data safe. Blockchain also enables organisations to protect their confidential data in a “self-sovereign” way.

All for one, one for all (or Authority)

Blockchain has no central authority and everyone participating has to agree to a common set of standards. Not everyone will get what they want, but working together to implement blockchain brings greater benefits to all than working alone. Independent but collaborating parties work together to create value on one common platform.   

You can also read other important blockchain terms in our #Hashing it Out series below.

Blockchain Terms: patient empowerment, smart contract, interoperability, traceability, data literacy

Blockchain Terms: governance, IoT devices, self-sovereign identity, data silo, provenance 

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