Blockchain has huge potential in healthcare, but it needs a new approach to take off, fintech-connected experts say.
Speaking at the Fintech Connect conference in London, speakers said that healthcare is considered one of the mature industries disrupted by blockchain technology, but the industry needs to embrace a new culture of experimentation in order to achieve its potential.
Blockchain can revolutionize the healthcare industry in three key areas, according to a panel of experts across the healthcare and blockchain fields.
The first way is to give patients more control over their data, said Anca Petre, co-founder and CEO of blockchain consultancy 23 Consulting. “Blockchain is the right tool to put patients in control of their own data,” Petre said. “Studies today show that 82% of patients want to know how their data is being used and who is using their data; they Want more visibility, which they don't have today."
The second area where blockchain could have an impact is the pharmaceutical supply chain, said Lara Verdian, healthcare and chief operating officer at Blockchain OS Quantitative Networks. "A lot of the effort is being driven by regulation," Verdian said. “The U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act is driving many collaborations and initiatives to use blockchain to meet some requirements.” Verdian also highlighted the European Falsified Drugs Directive as another driver for blockchain adoption in healthcare supply chains.
"If you look at what healthcare is, in theory, it's about interconnected systems with extremely complex behaviors," said Dr. Robert M. Learney, chief technologist at the UK's Centre for Technology Innovation, Digital Catapult Blockchain. , the movement of people, the movement of professionals, the movement of items and medicines through the system, ensuring that everything is delivered at the lowest possible cost and at the highest possible yield.”
Blockchain can be used for "everything from tracking and tracing shipments to restoring primacy of data ownership to the patient himself," he said.
He also emphasized that clinical trials are an area ripe for disruption. "You're going to have a lot of interesting computational problems, behavioral problems, business model problems like data access compensation and so on," Learney said. "As we speak, the world of computing with zero-knowledge [proofs] is just being born, so There are still several years before it matures."
Multiparty computing is another technology that could shake up clinical trials, Learney said. "You have a drug molecule, I have a target, and we all want to see if they match — but in an encrypted computing space, we can't see exactly what's going on."
The road to subversion
Blockchain has the potential to transform healthcare — but, Learney said, there are "two to three years of trials" ahead. He noted that legal guidance published in the UK last month suggested that crypto assets should be considered property under the law. "It's a good starting point," he said.
“We’re here for the first time with an actual legal opinion on what’s allowed under current law or current technology. That’s great,” Learney said, “Let’s start doing some experiments, trying to automate processes with smart contracts, and we start building digital twins , they are represented as crypto assets, let's see what they mean in a medical setting. "
However, Learney added, the medical industry needs to embrace the idea of experimentation before considering systemic shifts. "Healthcare thinks everything has to change," he said. “You have to change everything to get any benefit; I don’t think that’s true.” Instead, it entails launching small experiments to prove the value of the blockchain and then overhauling the entire system from top to bottom.
"Governments and policymakers are going to make some changes from the top down," Verdian said. "Somewhere, you'll find really unique use cases where you can show that it can be done easily without completely changing everything." It's not a revolution; it's an evolution of what you already have."
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