Health organisations, pharmaceutical companies, universities and medical researchers around the world all struggle with the challenge of sharing and accessing medical records while maintaining the confidentiality of the people to whom the records belong.
Collaboration between healthcare providers and drug companies is vital to the ongoing R&D effort required to bring new medicines to market and cure illness.
The UK NHS has spent billions trying to deliver a secure electronics records platform to GPs & hospitals and found the challenge to be fraught with complexity and hidden costs.
Today, the UK's NHS Digital is building platforms which aim to share patient data with organisations who have an interest in using the data for healthcare and research purposes.
Over the last 10 years that has been little to no innovation in the electronic records space but change may be on the way via a new breed of technology company raising investment capital through initial coin offerings (ICOs).
In simple terms ICOs are a form of crowdfunding which allow anyone, from traditional venture capital firms, investment banks or even the person in the street, to 'invest' in, buy (depending on your interest) and hold onto a unit of value (a virtual coin) in the company.
The ICO raises funds which are then used by the company to develop, deliver and market the application to end-users where more often than not it is the same end-users who are the investors thereby creating a user-group who have a vested interest in and who are rewarded for their adoption, use and development of the application.
With some ICOs having raised astonishing amounts of capital in a few minutes organisations are starting think hard about how to benefit from the blockchain revolution. Read more about ICO.
De-centralised applications using blockchain technology distribute and maintain the integrity of data which can also be done anonymously.
As government and private sector organisations alike struggle to bear the cost and complexity of building and running large centralised record stores this new breed of tech company behind the ICO revolution presents an opportunity. A chance for stakeholders in the healthcare sector to invest in developing the ideas which have the most potential to meet their strategic needs.
A vexing problem facing health care systems throughout the world is how to share more medical data with more stakeholders for more purposes, all while ensuring data integrity and protecting patient privacy. Traditionally, the interoperability of medical data among institutions has followed three models: push, pull, and view (discussed below), each of which has its strengths and weaknesses. Blockchain offers a fourth model, which has the potential to enable secure lifetime medical record sharing across providers.