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Blockchain powered technologies - their impact in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries
With the current rise of blockchain-based technologies and more specifically, many businesses are rethinking and reshaping their industries. This is the case as well for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries with a number of players offering a new take on some well-established technologies (EMR systems, PACS systems, off-site patient data monitoring, telemedicine, big data aggregation, anti-fraud systems, patient privacy etc.).
Can you provide insight as to what the major changes will be and what they mean for the future of these industries and their consumers/users?
Block chain can be used for:
- Managing personal and clinical access rights to data, i.e., EMR, clinical trials data and genomes
- Tracking IP sharing rights for collaborative drug discovery projects that are securely shared
- Public health sharing of de-identified data for research purposes
- Sharing of personal information with health insurance companies
- Patient generated data from wearables - managing the use, flow and access
- Securely sharing pharmaceutical research data with people who have need to know
Most of the applications to pharma and healthcare (with the exception of the IP application) involve securely sharing data with people who have rights to access at various levels. This will be the main application of block chain to healthcare. It will require users to have license to or access to this technology. There is room for startups to compete for the standard provider for blockchain services to the healthcare industry for secure information sharing
Count me as a blockchain skeptic for most of these applications, at least in the near to middle term. Broad implementation in healthcare would require very significant reinvestment in EMR and payments infrastructure and that substantial portions of the existing infrastructure are incompatible with a blockchain system. Deployment also requires massive computing power. I would not expect the change to occur any faster than, for example, the U.S. move from gas to elecrtic vehicles.
We certainly have pain points with our existing infrastructure but: (1) can blockchain deliver a more efficient and secure system, (2) if so, does the return justify the investment and (3) even if the answer to question 3 is “yes” is there a cheaper and less disruptive way to produce a similar return? For example, moving to value based models, especially for populations, diminishes the need for centrally mandated data collection and reduces the volume of transactions. As to privacy, if we move away from SSAs as the primary personal ID for health care, and with enforcement and perhaps extension of anti-discrimination protections for people with disease, both the economic value and privacy concerns related to health records decline.
This is a good topic. I am looking forward to hearing and learning from others.