BlockChange #1

This Dutch blockhain experiment could change the future of exchanging personal medical information

Norbert Schmidt (DDQ) starts pilot project about transferring medical files through blockchain

By Tom Janssen

Norbert Schmidt (DDQ)

He is tired of talking about blockchain. He just wants to get on with it. Norbert Schmidt, CEO of tech agency DDQ (Heerlen, The Netherlands) has a thing for blockchain. And it’s a passionate fling: In four years, he has become a expert in the field of blockchain in the Euregion Meuse-Rhine, between Maastricht, Düsseldorf and Aachen. Together with the Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+), Schmidt will start a experiment with transferring medical files through blockchain.

How could medical files be transferred between hospitals through the use of blockchain? That is the question on which Schmidt’s pilot project is based. “Blockchain can be used in many different ways”, Schmidt explains. “One of its virtues is that through blockchain, information can be transferred in an encrypted and very safe manner. Especially in the medical sector, this could be very useful, in giving the patient control again over handling and distributing his own personal medical information.”


The exchange of medical information is still largely done on paper. In the Netherlands however, the national government has ordered that by 2020 all the personal medical files have to be digital available to all citizens. Schmidt thinks that blockchain could accelerate this development. “The beauty about blockchain is that it is a technology that enables you to manage personal medical information yourself. There is no middle man anymore. You decide who gets access tot your file and whether or when you want to distribute your information.”

“It seems that blockchain is something for corporates, while in fact there are many innovative startups that do fantastic things with blockchain.”

The use of blockchain saves also a lot of money. Schmidt: “Can you imagine that all this communication on paper will be replaced by blockchain? We won’t need paper anymore, nor do we need people to distribute all those letters. That means a huge cost reduction. And blockchain makes communication a lot faster and safer.”

Talk, talk, talk

Schmidt himself doesn’t need much convincing about the power of blockchain. However, he wants to use this experiment with MUMC+ to give blockchain more impact on a bigger scale in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine. “There are too little practical applications of blockchain in this region”, Schmidt feels. “Luckily, the MUMC+ shares my passion for blockchain, but in other parts of the region it’s mostly just talk, talk, talk. It seems that blockchain is something for corporates, while in fact there are many innovative startups that do fantastic things with blockchain. They represent true disruption, in my view.”