The blockchain industry is growing rapidly despite the frequent fluctuation in cryptocurrency value. Dailytoken investigated the three major industries that blockchain-based projects focus on. Medicine combined with blockchain technology is expected to generate treatment cost reduction and remote treatment through selective sharing of personal information.
Companies that are developing platforms in finance, medicine and social media have been participating in many blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences and meetups held in Korea, Japan and other countries since cryptocurrency gained popularity in the last quarter of 2017. NAM and Medical Chain each attended the March Hey Blockchain Conference and the November 2017 Tokyo conference. They are either preparing for the launch of a medical data management business based on blockchain technology or operating the business partially. According to ICO research site next.autonomous.com, 4.27 billion dollars (4.5531 trillion won) was raised through ICO. Of the total amount raised, 386.9 million dollars (412.5 billion won) were invested in medicine in the hope that it would create a synergistic effect between blockchain and medicine.
The domestic medicine industry is quickly applying the blockchain technology as well. Solutions related to payment services, such as insurance claim filing and medical certificate issuance are being adopted at medical institutions first. The goal is to implement the distributed ledger system to simplify the process of issuing various paper documents including medical records and effectively manage document distribution history. By applying blockchain technology, distributed medical records can be stored on blocks to save time and cost that would be spent due to unnecessary treatment and smooth remote treatment can be provided as well.
CEO Ko Wu-gyun of Mediblock, a company that is preparing to launch a blockchain-based personal health record platform that collects the health information of each patient scattered at different medical institutions, said, “Medical records belong to patients, yet they are scattered across different hospitals and medical device companies, making it hard to utilize the data. We’ve created a blockchain-based health record management system to solve this problem.” Through utilization of the blockchain technology, personal information can be protected, and patients can exercise ownership of their health records.
In 2017, Google’s artificial intelligence business division DeepMind announced its development of a blockchain-based medical service. AI DeepMind, currently used in cancer treatment, is a joint effort between the newly launched DeepMind Health division of Google and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Basically, it is a digital ledger that automatically encrypts and records patient data through the Verifiable Data Audit program that uses the database of British hospitals and the NHS to track patient information in real-time. Through partnership with the NHS, Google can now handle the data of 1.6 million patients from the last five years in real-time.
The biggest challenge in the medical sector is actual utilization of these service platforms. Medical information standardization, payment system, medical system, and social consensus need to be established. Because information that goes on the blockchain cannot be deleted, however, it is unclear whether these medical platforms will be materialized. Revision of medical law can take somewhere between a few months and a few years.
There’s also the danger of service providers using medical information without permission. Certain internet-based IT companies are guilty of this. Some people are concerned that Google, which is in possession of a vast amount of personal information, might be doing this.
Ben Laurie, the security manager of DeepMind, said, “Using blockchain to ensure data security will lead to great losses. Not all data needs to be distributed.” But nothing has been disclosed about the final version of DeepMind’s platform as it is still being developed.
Regarding blockchain-based medical systems, Section Manager Oh Sang-yun of the Ministry of Health and Welfare said, “The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aware of the many benefits of the blockchain technology and is carrying out research. What we need to do from now on is to continue in the discussion to figure out how to encrypt vast amounts of medical data and establish the operation governance and systems.” He added, “Now whether Korea is ready to embrace this development from a systematical and ethical standpoint is yet to be decided.”