Monique Morrow

Chief Technology Strategist

Blockchain for Healthcare

March 2018

    By the end of 2020, it’s predicted that there will be over 50 billion connected devices, all of which set the stage for millions of data transactions. As we move forward in this connected, digital first world, data is becoming a new kind of currency, or more so, we’re moving into a data economy. But in this new economy, privacy, which is a fundamental human right, becomes harder to maintain. Following several leak instances (think: Equifax), it has become apparent that consumers’ security and privacy is constantly at stake. Particularly in the realm of healthcare (where security-privacy is critical), it’s time for blockchain to step up to the plate.

    So what’s the promise of blockchain for healthcare? The idea is simple. Centralized systems are not secure and are easily corruptible, as well as vulnerable to cyberattacks. Blockchain systems on the other hand, are decentralized and not prone to attack, because no one control system has the key to the data. This is where blockchain and health care intersect. Blockchain networks have the potential to keep data private and secure, even among billions of connected devices.

    As Dr. Frances Hughes, healthcare activist and professional, states, “patients and consumers lack transparency, as well as health literacy, when it comes to some of the biggest decisions regarding their own lives and bodies.” Blockchain’s implications for reshaping health care are its abilities to provide “real time research data” when it comes to pharmaceutical safety and trials, audit and accreditation agencies, compliance processes, etc. With blockchain, the patient and consumer becomes fully in control of his/her own data, challenging the power structures of health providers and funders/insurers. No longer having healthcare services captured under others’ licenses, insurers, hospital administrators, etc. means transparency like never before, as well as security and trust.

    As Entrepreneur examines, blockchain harnesses the power of encryption to assert its own immutability, and become a safer option than any physical database. Blockchain, unlike anything else, places the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem.

    But blockchain’s value across healthcare extends to more than just security-privacy. A common database of health information for doctors, providers, and patients to access at all times can also result in more time spent on patient care, better sharing of research results for new treatments, enhanced drug development through result accessibility, and even minimization of claim and billing fraud.

    Most radically, blockchain can transform medical innovation—and perhaps even the prediction and prevention of cancer. As Nasdaq reports, a person’s genomica data holds high market value, and a startup called Shivom (which utilizes blockchain technology) is partnering with leading molecular diagnostics company Genetic Technologies (GTG) to accelerate the prediction of cancer for millions of individuals.

    “The low-cost management of data that it enables allows us to revolutionize how genomics is presented to the world, co-founder and COO of Shivom, Gourish Singla, says of blockchain. Shivom’s blockchain-centric healthcare platform puts ownership of data right into the hands of individuals, and integration of such a database enables GTG to better identify, and thus prevent, cancer risks. THAT’s just one example of why blockchain could be the future of healthcare.

    Like other industries, blockchain has the potential to radically disrupt the industry—and healthcare is an industry long due for disruption.