Iryo — the decentralized future of healthcare

Improvement in healthcare over the last 100 years has been dramatic. People live longer and better lives all over the world, and this trend is going to continue.


The information age brought new challenges, opportunities and set new customer expectations in all areas including healthcare. We all create and collect infinite ammounts of data on our phones in addition to visits at the doctors.

Key problems with data in healthcare

The key problem of data in healthcare can be summarized in lack of widely adopted open standards for health data, leading to poor interoperability. Patients are often left carrying around records on paper to show their medical history to doctors treating them. OpenEHR, which Iryo is building upon is an effort to tackle this.

The second major challenge is inadequate security and often outdated architecture. This presents an opportunity for Iryo to leapfrog existing solutions with a decentralized architecture as a backbone for new services.

Poor interoperability, inadequate security and lack of control over personal data limits the scope of using this data for research purposes. It’s less about giving your personal data away for research and more about making sure that the data doesn’t get abused in one way or another. Cardiogram is a good example of what is possible when data becomes open. Iryo will enable much more of that.

Why and when decentralization of healthcare data makes sense

It’s a very fair question to ask why would you even want to decentralize healthcare data, given the fact that the US and most European countries have information systems in place that do a reasonably good job at storing and exchanging health records.

Decentralization and anti-fragility by design are specially useful when developing systems where no central authority can have control over data, no registry can be tampered with and most importantly can still be accessed if parts of the system are not online at the time.

Imagine a centralized EHR not being available in the middle of a crisis, where lives depend on getting their medical history right. A decentralized and resilient design, like the one Iryo has, can prevent that.

The second key component of a forward looking EHR solution is privacy. The Iryo team choose to leaverage zero-knowledge storage and anonymous query interfaces to guarantee that.

Helping those who need it most first

Despite Iryo still being in early phases of development it already attracted the attention of several institutions and projects that will benefit from a decentralized EHR system.

The first official deployment of the Iryo sistem is with Walk With Me — a partnership that will provide a modern, distributed electronic health record system to refugee camps in the Middle East.

The Walk With Me organisation currently operates 12 projects in 6 countries — Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Djibouti, totaling 11 million refugees. Additional clinics are planned to be established in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey, with a long-term vision of reaching 700 camps worldwide.

Onwards

I’m excited about the opportunity to help Vasja and the team building this ambitious project as an advisor.

3fs has long been known as a studio where extraordinary talent built digital products with fantastic user experiences, powered by the latest technologies. Lake (2017 Apple design award winner), TrickyTribe, Toshl (backed by 500 startups) and many telecom services at scale in partnership with Ericsson.

When Andraz Logar, a long time friend and partner in many projects, first shared the conceptual idea that eventually became Iryo, it just seemed crazy ambitious. At the time the key focus was still research of pain-points and problems in the space. Andraz and the team were actively interviewing doctors and health professionals to gain deep insights in the domain.

In the summer of 2017, I met with Vasja and was impressed by his positive attitude, desire to work on something impactful and infectious energy. Vasja used to manage products at 3fs before joining Bitstamp, and eventually assembling a strong team for Iryo.

I’m looking forward to contribute, sharing the lessons learned at Layer in building a scalable platform, enabling great user experiences, used by both developers and large organizations.