by Peter B. Nichol

How to monetize healthcare using blockchain

Mar 15, 2016
Health and Fitness SoftwareHealthcare IndustryTechnology Industry

There are thousands of applications surrounding the multitude of blockchain applications. They all lead back to one cardinal question: how can blockchain technology be monetized for healthcare?

There are thousands of applications surrounding the multitude of blockchain applications. They all lead back to one cardinal question: how can blockchain technology be monetized for healthcare?

Smart health contracts

The global pharmaceutical market is 1.057 trillion, and the major players include Pfizer ($47.4 billion), Johnson & Johnson ($16.3 billion), Humira ($11.84 billion), and Novartis AG ($49.4 billion). The race to anonymously cross reference enormous sets of dynamic medical data with historical medical records, will open revenues streams for drug discovery and personalized medicine.

Smart contracts execute the obligations under the agreement to which both parties have agreed. Blockchain offers a reliable environment for these contracts because of the immutability and the cryptographic security strength of the blockchain. This may be the next generation electronic medical record. However, that’s just the beginning.

The entire office visit would be executed through a physician visit distributed application. This application would seamlessly manage admittance, access the patient’s universal EMR, and validate the patient’s identity and access. Once the patient was finished with their doctor appointment the software would annotate the universal EMR and complete the checkout including processing the patient’s payment.

Web services and daemons have no internal capital. Decentralized applications (Dapps) are the simplest form of a smart contract. This is an agreement involving digital assets between two parties, that get automatically redistributed based on the contracted formula. Decentralized organizations (DOs) are composed of a set of property that could be digital, and a protocol that defines the rules for a group of individuals. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) have internal capital that is valuable. Smart contracts may free DAOs from the risky human component when leveraging blockchain architecture. Inching DAOs closer to real AI.

In the blockchain model, patient records can’t be hacked or stolen.  The process for requesting, receiving, and paying for care will be facilitated through authorization (hashes) on the blockchain.

Universal ledger for global genomic sequencing

Once personal genome sequencing becomes part of the mainstream, the 322.7 million Americans will need a secure way to store and access their genomes. We know that individual genomes vary by less than 1%, they can roughly be compressed to 4 megabytes. The human genome contains 2.9 billion base pairs by estimation.  However, storage in the 2-bit representation is impractical. Also, when working with genomic data, it’s stored and researched by chromosome, not in long data streams. Individual chromosome data storage can range from 50MB to 300MB, based on several variables. To keep things simple let’s, assume a human genome takes 725 megabytes (2.9 base pairs * 2) to store. There are creative ways to compress this data using GARLI. Where is this data going to live and how will it be accessed?

DNA.bits, founded in 2014, is a cutting-edge technology company that solves the challenge of mapping large data sets to clinical data.  Using authentication without identification DNA.bits can correlate large populations of genetic samples focusing on HIPAA, genomics, and de-identified continuous sharing of genetic and correlated clinical data. DNA.bits utilizes the Bitcoin platform and can aggregate data from multiple sources without the need to collect it into a central database. Value?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) insurance

Dynamis(Virginia, USA), Inspeer(Paris, France), PeerCover (Tasman, New Zealand), Friendsurance (Berlin, Germany), Lemonade (New York, USA), Guevara (United Kingdom), TongJuBao(China) are applying the crowdfunding platform to insurance. The general concept is to make insurance more affordable. Policyholders pool together for coverage, and when there is a claim, they used that pooled money to pay the claims. If there are no claims, the policy cost will decrease. Microinsurance might unseat large insurance companies.

Zopa was the first to start peer-to-peer lending in 2004. Zopa applied the sharing economy to lending a decade ago; these new players are applying the sharing economy to personal insurance. At a macro level, there are two keystone benefits: 1. pooling of shared risk and 2. the pooling of shared benefits. Economies of scale help suppress out of pocket costs for policy holders, and insurance companies benefit because they carry a smaller annual risk profile, as a result of paying less outbound for claims incurred by the policy group.

The P2P insurance model also benefits from the lack of trust between providers and members. Blockchain offers “trust” between strangers.  Users interacting with web servers place trust in a “root” administrator.  However, as experienced from (Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (ransomware), VTech (data breach), Patreon(data breach) these architectures are susceptible to intrusion. Web services offer a bit more security when web services are architected properly, yet these schemes depend on entirely trusting the computer or the people that have access to the computer.

Blockchain is not necessarily a “trustless architecture” but it does offer “trust-minimized” solution. In this situation, subscribers would trust the code and could still not trust the owner of the computer or code. Peer-to-peer insurance that leverage the blockchain, decrease policyholder’s cost and while improving the security and trust of their network.

Quantified self-data standards

Biometrics integrated into quantified self-data (e.g. data from your Fitbit) could be integrated into the health blockchain. Blockchain presents many opportunities to improve existing process and business models including decentralized data access, universal electronic medical records (EMRs), digital health asset protection, health tokens, and even DNA wallets.

As executives, our challenge is to simplify blockchain’s value. Blockchain’s decentralize businesses and remove the middle man. They establish digital trust in a trustless world, and we need more trust in healthcare.