Almost every industry in the world is investing in research for new applications based on blockchain technology. Companies are racing to integrate DLT to their businesses. The healthcare industry is following the trend - some of the key players in this area are: Hashed Health, iSolve, Patientory, Medical Сhain, Chronicled, FarmaTrust, SimplyVital Health, The Link Lab, IBM, Change Healthcare, Microsoft, and Optum.
What can blockchain do for healthcare?
- Exchange of health-related information
At the moment, the volume of information shared among hospitals, health service providers and other institutions, is minimal. Storing, accessing and analyzing all this data is also inefficient, slow and expensive. Such information is vital for developing more efficient health-care services.
Blockchain implementation should reduce costs, eliminate intermediaries, speed up operational processes and bring more transparency.
- Biomedical research
Research requires accessible, trustable, data and seamless coordination. Blockchain should enable easier and quicker access to safely stored information.
Projects involving blockchain and healthcare
Longenesis aims to extend life by preventing diseases while making people wealthier by developing a decentralized ecosystem for exchange and utilization of human life data using the latest advances in blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Nebula Genomics plans to create a “marketplace” for genomic information over a blockchain-powered network where individuals or biobanks can upload data. Users can also choose to sell their personal genomic data and get paid via the network.
Scientist launched DataSmart, a platform enabling pharmaceutical and biotech companies to demonstrate that critical supplier information and important research data has not been tampered with and remains unaltered.
There are also multiple academic inquiries on the subject:
- Oncotarget Research Paper: "Converging blockchain and next-generation artificial intelligence technologies to decentralize and accelerate biomedical research and healthcare."
- "Global Blockchain in Healthcare Market - Analysis and Forecast (2018-2025)" Report
- ”A case study in blockchain health care innovation” prepared by Thomas Heston from Washington State University
While DLT’s potential impact on the healthcare industry may seem exciting, change won’t happen overnight. Conversion from the current infrastructure to blockchain-based solutions will require substantial investments, with existing institutions and healthcare providers potentially resisting extra costs. Conversion will also require the standardization of protocols, which is not an easy task, considering the scale of all existing and future networks. Blockchain management regulations have also not been put in place.
Blockchain and AI-powered platforms will collect, share, and store individual and global data from personally submitted genome information to form comparisons between patients with similar symptoms and medical histories. Once the industry adopts blockchain, will doctor-patient confidentiality remain secure? Will blockchain and AI-powered platforms take the Hippocratic Oath before being a major part of our health system?
By Nadya Astam