Medicine is a discipline that heals the body from the fruits of research on a group of patients. Each individual is therefore involved in improving the efficiency of the health system by providing doctors and research centers with information on his or hers past or current state of health. These are integrated into an expanded set of samples from a larger number to statistically identify areas of interest for panacea research. As we live in an era strongly influenced by digital tools, health systems are forced to use technology for the constitution, storage, and transmission of medical data. Many companies already offer these services. However, the emergence of a technology in the process of eclipsing the internet – called blockchain, redistributes cards in the health care sector.
Health System and Big data
On April 2nd in a letter to a local newspaper in the United States, a conglomerate of companies including the US health giant and number one insurer in the country, announced its first steps in the world of blockchain because of the solutions that it could bring to the health environment. Together with this health leader who has built a fortune of 200 billion dollars in 2017, the conglomerate is based on the finding that health professionals spend a lot of money on the creation of a medical database. Although it would be, in the opinion of the US government, constituted to 50 percent of data truncated. “The industrial companies estimate at more than 2 billion dollars, the annual funds mobilized for the constitution, the storage and the protection of the medical files.” This conglomerate of companies announces thus a “pilot project which will look at a more efficient sharing medical data between health care organizations using blockchain technology to increase reliability, rationalize funds and improve overall access to care. “
In terms of security, the blockchain seems to be a good option in a sector where (medical) information must be protected from the seal of secrecy and where the mass of information that is continuously updated must remain accessible to both the patient and the doctor.
The blockchain itself is a decentralized network operating on the Internet and which allows each individual or terminal member of the network to share encrypted information without a server. This system is deemed invulnerable to hacking because of its decentralization and cryptography. The blockchain therefore fulfills the ideal criteria for the management of a medical database.
Statements by these health professionals indicate that care is often delayed due to a discrepancy in the data provided by patients and health records. The immutable nature of the decentralized registers that form the blockchain would therefore be perfectly adapted to avoid these inconsistencies.
Towards a War of Medical Data
The idea of having medical data via internet bytes is not new.
Since 2008, Google has offered everyone the option to store their medical data via Google Health online. “Imagine if we were able to anonymously access medical data of all Americans, I’m sure that we would save at least 100,000 people a year by analyzing that data” (Larry Page). There is therefore an opportunity in terms of research to have medical data on a decentralized network.
Health is data provided. Surgeon Laurent Alexandre explained that “we used to treat the patient with very few pieces of information”. Today the data used, goes back to the sequencing of DNA, which is becoming the basis of everyday medicine and represents 10 trillion information per patient. The storage of the data being the favorite domain of the giant Mountain View, we understand its interest in storing medical data.
The conglomerate, intends to keep in the bosom of the health professionals and to withdraw from Google or other, this mine of information which will prove to be a manna tomorrow.
“This is probably one of the very first health blockchain interference in the nationwide,” said Mike Jacobs, a renowned engineer at Optum, one of the associated companies.
Still, even a giant company like Google is late on the issue, other companies including IBM and the Linux Foundation have announced working together on a similar project called Medicalchain.