Contributed by: Show Editorial Team
Daniel Benjamens, Michael Boni, Andrzej Ryz, Frank Ricotta, and Alex Cahana Discuss Blockchain in Healthcare at Blockchain for Europe Summit (EU Parliament)
-We can use blockchain networks and blockchain solutions because this technology can develop the potential to connect fragmented systems to generate insights and give the better assets of values and curves
-Blockchain can help provide more of a universal health equity and access system
-Data is the currency of digital health
In the near future, people may be able to make money by being healthy.
One model could go something like this: Agree to share your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and sleep data collected by your smart watch or other device, and companies interested in mining big data may reimburse you with cryptocurrency.
“At the end of the day, data is the currency of digital health. Everybody wants to own it, because they know it’s extremely valuable,” said Frank Ricotta, CEO and Co-Founder of BurstIQ, a blockchain-based healthcare data company. “But individuals have a hard time accessing it, yet alone understanding it enough to use it in a productive way. That’s the problem we set out to solve.”
Ricotta was speaking at the 2018 Blockchain for Europe conference, where the idea of monetizing health data was just one of the ideas discussed during the Blockchain in Healthcare Panel. But Ricotta’s thoughts represented a key aspect of the conversation: Blockchain can be used in healthcare to empower individuals in ways that make society healthier. While the panel didn’t necessarily arrive at any specific conclusions, there was clear consensus that blockchain can be used in healthcare to connect fragmented systems, give people greater control over their health picture, and eliminate inefficiencies in payments and care.
The panel, moderated by Daniel Benjamens, Associate Director of APCO Worldwide, featured Michael Boni, an MEP (Christian Democrats) serving on the Justice, Home Affairs, Technology committees; Andrzej Rys, Director of Medical Products and Innovation for the European Commission; Ricotta; and Alex Cahana, Head of Med-Tech for Crypto Oracle. The event was filmed live by the Traders Network Show, hosted by Matt Bird, and was held at European Parliament in Brussels.
A major topic of conversation had to do with blockchain’s ability to connect entities within what is currently a very fractured healthcare system. With data on the blockchain, people can have health records that travel with them across borders and into different doctors offices. This allows doctors of varying specialties to instantaneously see care that has already been provided, thus creating a more holistic picture of a person’s health, almost assuredly leading to better outcomes.
“What’s missing is connecting all these little data islands in a way that makes sense, and that’s really where blockchain fits in,” Ricotta said. “Providing all of these roads and bridges within the healthcare community.”
Boni, an MEP, shared similar sentiments. “This technology can develop the potential to connect fragmented systems,” he said. “It’s creating efficiency.”
Having easy and secure access to health data also gives individuals greater control over their healthcare, and could lead to a system that is more truly a “healthcare” system, rather than “disease care” system. In part, this shift would come about because, with real-time access to information like blood pressure and heart rate, individuals and healthcare providers will be better positioned to see the warning signs of a health crisis before it becomes catastrophic. And if people generally practice more preventive health measures, we all benefit because caring for less-severe illness is less costly.
“The opposite of health is not disease. The opposite of health is isolation,” Cahana said. “The journey back to wellness is connectedness. Take the “I” out of illness, replace it with “we,” and you get the word “wellness.” This is what it is all about. Creating a community that is interdependent, because none of us is as good as all of us.”
Blockchain is clearly a way to create that interdependent, connected healthcare system. But panelists like Rys, who is on the regulation side, aren’t ready to turn healthcare completely over to technology. Even if algorithms undergirded by blockchain technology can generate sound predictions and diagnoses based on available health data, Rys said doctors are still needed to interpret the data in a human way.
“How this data can be analyzed, and does it make sense? Something we should not forget about is medical health professionals,” Rys said.
Even Ricotta, who sits firmly on the technology side of the conversation, said the goal is to create a system focused on people.
“At the end of the day, we want to make health personal again.”
(Written by Andrew Waite; Editing and revisions by Nicole Liddy)
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