Although blockchain technology has existed for nearly a decade, it is only in the last year or two that the healthcare industry has begun to sit up and take notice of its potential for the industry. A number of startups are beginning to consider how blockchain can be applies to issues arising in the healthcare industry such as medical record interoperability, data security, and supply-chain management.
Some high-profile companies are already beginning to apply blockchain to the healthcare industry, such as Alibaba (who signed an agreement with the city of Changzhou in China to launch a blockchain application in the healthcare sector) and IBM Watson, who have agreed to work with the US FDA to research how blockchain technology can be used to securely share medical data. Below are summaries of five startups that are currently attempting to implement blockchain technology in the healthcare sector:
PokitDok is a California based startup that is developing APIs for healthcare verticals such as claims, pharmacy and identity management. The firm example of their blockchains is DokChain, a “distributed network of transaction processors operating on both financial and clinical data across the healthcare industry.”
PokitDok intends to provide a secure network in which to record patient data, including that obtained from pharmacies and also from IoT-enabled medical devices. The PokitDok APIs, as well as APIs developed by others for the network, will connect to a distributed blockchain network and could, for example, run an insurance claim eligibility check in mere seconds.
Based in Atlanta, Patientory’s blockchain intends to enable EMR interoperability, as well as enhanced cybersecurity for medical data. Access to the platform is through its digital current, PTOY, which gives users access to the platform where they can safely store health information.
The company intends that its blockchain will allow the patient to “become the primary intermediary in sending and receiving health information negating the need for frequent updates and troubleshooting of any software”. By making the patient the intermediary, healthcare institutions will be able to add new patient data to the blockchain, which can then be accessed by any other institution with the requisite permissions.
California-based Gem aims to apply blockchain technology in the supply chain management area of the healthcare industry. Developed on the Ethereum blockchain, the Gem Healthcare Network intends to add security through permissioned blockchains in which patients can grant access to healthcare providers and where a shared ledger system will record any changes on the network.
The company initially intends to apply the technology to health claims management, which will allow for the verification and reimbursement of health claims to be more time-efficient and effective. The patient platform, GemOS, will allow all relevant parties to access a patient’s health records in real-time, including patients, providers and insurers, allowing for speed and transparency throughout the claims process.
Based in Estonia, Guardtime is an established provider of blockchain-based security systems in sectors such as advertising, national defence and financial services. Guardtime is based on the use of a Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI) which can allow for large-scale data authentication.
In terms of the healthcare industry, Guardtime has entered into a partnership with the Estonian e-Health Authority whereby over 1 million patient records were recorded on the blockchain. By applying the blockchain, Estonian citizens are able to record and secure every interaction with their patient data, as well as carrying unique individual identifiers that link to their health records.
Based in San Francisco, Chronicled provides purpose-built blockchain applications for clients involved in supply chain management and the Internet of Things. The applications are compatible with the Quorom, Hyperledger and Ethereum blockchain networks and allows for records to be created on medical devices and pharmaceuticals, as well as allowing for packages such as blood and human organs to be tracked to ensure that they are kept at the correct temperatures. The IoT sensor records temperature readings on the blockchain to ensure secure and real-time data transmission.
In addition, Chronicled has developed a tamper-proof adhesive sticker called “CryptoSeal, which creates a cryptographic identity for physical items that can then be scanned and verified against the blockchain registry at each stage during the supply chain.