Blockchain and Its Practical Application: Healthcare

NEC Corporation of America || CC

I have decided to upgrade cryptocurrency analysis to a more sophisticated level. It has been bothering me lately that people started to develop a sense of what Bitcoin really is, not least for a recent surge in new “crypto-webs”. Unfortunately, reality appears to be starker – it is Bitcoin´s volatility that sparked the recent growth in its recognition, with the constant rise and fall in terms of its price. These circumstances triggered a personal urge to bring additional value to my articles.

In order of priority, we will first take a detailed look at the underlying technology of the Blockchain and its application in the field of healthcare. Our focus will be on companies purporting to develop interesting projects aimed at boosting healthcare´s effectiveness. More often than not this means solutions to questions of health data storage, also known as “E-health”, a concept still in the midst of its testing phase.

Countries abroad have only just witnessed various hacking attempts targeted at their healthcare systems. Our most recent cautionary tale involves a virus called WannaCry. In blunt terms, we are talking of an outright attack on data and their password protection from their very owners who were blackmailed to pay ransom for the data taken hostage. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to data hacking, as the sole purpose of this attack was illegal money-making.

Blockchain is a technology with the ability to overcome such problems while coming up with innovative and simpler ideas that would advance the cause of health records. Several companies have already embarked on a quest to find the link between the Blockchain and healthcare. Here we should differentiate between real projects with a detailed description of its plan and purpose on one hand and announced joint collaborations on the other. The latter include projects in Russia or China (Alibaba), where local governments were supposed to cooperate with members of the private sphere on the creation of a platform. In spite of the pompous nature of these publicly made announcements, not much has been done on top the PR.

On the other side of the spectre shine the real projects with a detailed plan, with some of those currently in the process of generating funds while others have already progressed to the platform/application development stage.

  • Patientory – An American startup that generated $7.22 mil. via ICO in the spring of 2017. The startup emitted its own currency labelled PTOY that will be used as a tool to store users´ health records on Blockchain. Doctors will have the right of access to user profiles, enabling them to check and add health data. The alpha testing version of the application has already been launched. The beta version is expected to be released in 2018, according to the company´s internal plans. The company is currently collaborating with entities like Dash or Hyperledger, a platform that connects most startups linked to the Blockchain.

  • PokitDok – A project with the goal of syncing patients´ health records with all stakeholders to be found in healthcare, such as doctors, pharmacies or insurance companies. As such, the company´s spotlight focuses not merely on health data, but on a general extension and simplification of healthcare systems. The target audience is the patient base of the USA where healthcare has its own specific flaws, as insurance is not obligatory and the system of health data sharing between individual parties is filled with gaps. As a result, US healthcare is currently experiencing the phenomenon of information asymmetry, starting from the doctor´s diagnosis and spreading all the way to the distribution of medicine. The startup offers an overall simplification of the whole system via applications operating on the basis of the Blockchain.

  • GEM – A company working on solutions similar to those from PokitDok. It aims to create a system on the Blockchain that will record the patient´s whole medical history and all interactions relevant to their health. Philips has also been involved in the project´s development. The company has an auxiliary project in the form of vehicle insurance in collaboration with Toyota, a car manufacturer. Its plan is to create a new insurance model that would accommodate diverse input factors such as drivers´ technique or an individual´s behavior in traffic.

  • Guardtime – This company is one of the largest of its kind in providing solutions on the platform of the Blockchain. It is currently researching the fields of national defence, financial services, public services, advertising, and healthcare. The company has established collaborative relations with the government of Estonia specifically in the area of healthcare. The purpose of this mutual endeavour is the improvement of cyber security in Estonia´s already ingrained e-health system.

  • Chronicled – A company that came up with the idea of electronic chips and intelligent sensors recording data from various products on the Blockchain. These chips enable the user to trace back the product´s history and find out whether it is an original, its place of manufacture or its ownership history. Its relevance to healthcare lies in tracing the histories of health equipment or medicine. The company has also developed a sensor that monitors the temperature of blood and transplanted organs, subsequently storing the obtained data on the Blockchain. Blood transfers and organ transplants heavily depend on the surrounding environment and storage temperature, which makes the company´s inventions ever so pertinent.

  • – This is a project that is still generating funds for its basic operations via the mechanism of ICO. The goal is to give the user the possibility to have a “pocket doctor”, or an app in their phone that could consistently analyze the user´s health condition derived from precedently inserted symptoms. The app will function through data analysis, allowing it to evaluate the user´s health condition. The system will also contain a bonus feature that will reward user participation in the system and the sharing of healthcare data by individual users.

Of all these projects it is PokitDok that is more or less finalized and is progressively becoming ready for use. The rest of these ventures is either in the fund generating phase or have not yet presented a final version of their application, particularly in the arena of electronical storage of health records. Before drawing opinionated conclusions, it is worth mentioning that all of the projects described above go back to 2015 or 2016, too short of a span of time to make final judgment on their contribution to the general development of healthcare.

Translated by Edward Szekeres

Martin Lindak