WHY BLOCKCHAIN FOR HEALTHCARE IS A GAME CHANGER
In 2017, blockchain will change healthcare. Although this might seem like a bold statement, the facts show that this years could mark a turning point in the sector’s history. Blockchain for Healthcare is on its way to disrupt the industry.
Blockchain, ICOs, AI. Healthcare is taking a step into the future.
Lately, in the blockchain and crypto-currency world, everyone’s attention has been caught by the ICO regulation and the Bitcoin blockchain fork. But while people were not looking, the healthcare sector was going though exciting times.
The Bitfury Group, a U.S. blockchain company signed earlier this month a partnership with AI firm Insilico Medicine. “The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding last month for collaboration to study and develop blockchain and AI solutions for sharing, managing, tracking and validating healthcare data” revealed Bitfury CEO, Valery Vavilov to Reuters.
Also this month, Bowhead Health, a blockchain company specialized in the healthcare industry launched its second round crowdsale for an anonymized health token. The Canada-based startup aims to place the patients at the center of the healthcare system by giving them full control over their health data. “We are thrilled to be operating at the intersection of cryptography, biochemistry, hardware and software to bring our Bowhead vision to life,” says Dr. Mehta, Bowhead Health CEO.
Although the two companies have very different backgrounds, they both agree on a common vision: the need to improve the use of medical data.
Blockchain brings a new model for patient data management.
For those of you that are familiar with the health industry, the lack of interoperability when it comes to managing patient records is no mystery. The sector has been facing this problem for years with no concrete or efficient solution up to date. The challenge consists in sharing medical data with healthcare stakeholders worldwide, while ensuring security and privacy.
A recent Harvard Business Review article states: “Traditionally, the interoperability of medical data among institutions has followed three models: push, pull, and view, each of which has its strengths and weaknesses. Blockchain offers a fourth model, which has the potential to enable secure lifetime medical record sharing across providers.”
Indeed, up until now, doctors were able to send, request or view medical information but without formal consent from the patient and an audit-compatible system. By providing a public and immutable ledger of transactions, cryptographic tools for data security and integrity and “smart contracts” to manage data access, blockchain appears to be a good solution.
The distributed ledger technology can act like a catalogue that lists all the sources of medical information with their precise time of creation. That way, doctors can rapidly check all the available data and access a patient’s medical records with his/her consent.
International initiatives are successfully being deployed.
Although this seems utopic at first, looking at some of the initiatives around blockchain in healthcare is enough to understand that the transformation will occur sooner than we think. An example of a large-scale adoption of decentralized data management processes is the Estonian health system. Indeed, The Estonian eHealth Foundation in partnership with Guardtime, developed the first blockchain-based system designed to securely store over 1 million medical records.
In the US, the Medical Society of Delaware recently announced the launch of a blockchain-based proof-of-concept to improve access to healthcare. “We are confident that this proof-of-concept will not only address this particular pain point, but will lay the groundwork for streamlining other healthcare administrative issues as well.” Says Andrew Dahlke, vice president of the Medical Society of Delaware.
More international big players such as IBM, the MIT or Philips also announced this year new partnerships to further explore the use of blockchain in the healthcare industry.
Therefore, with all the indicators green and major initiatives developing each month, healthcare is finally going to experience the its first major revolution.