Medicalchain
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Medicalchain

One HealthTech “Busting Blockchain Myths”

Blockchain technology is an exciting topic in the healthcare space, with many companies looking at the opportunities that could arise from utilising this technology. While there is a lot of excitement around blockchain technology, few people appear to be aware of how services built using blockchain technology could improve the experience of healthcare for every person worldwide.

On Wednesday, 23rd May I was invited to speak at the One HealthTech event, “Busting the Blockchain Myth in Healthcare” at Citypoint 1, London. Hosted by Helen Disney and sponsored by Simmons & Simmons, this event provided an evening of fresh and thought-provoking discussion surrounding the technical, ethical and legal aspects of implementing blockchain technology into practice.

One HealthTech brings together doers, thinkers and trailblazers to change the face of healthcare. Their mission is to be the platform that ignites and supports the most dynamic and inclusive health technology communities.

Talks included:

  • “Blockchain 101”, by Rhian Lewis, tech consultant and blockchain specialist,
  • Blockchain and the GDPR, by Sophie Sheldon, Associate & Lydia Torne, Managing Associate, Simmons & Simmons Blockchain,
  • Traceability and the pharma supply chain, by Imogen Bunyard, Chief Operations Officer and Co-founder, Qadre,
  • Blockchain and genetic data, by Rabia Khan, Exploratory Scientist
  • Blockchain and electronic health records, by yours truly

I watched, inspired by the knowledge and passion that every woman projected, during their talk. As I took to the lectern I looked upon the audience to see an array of unfamiliar faces. What sat before me was not a traditional, ‘blockchain crowd’ but a healthcare crowd intrigued by the word “blockchain.”

During my presentation on ‘blockchain for healthcare records’ I watched as people’s expressions turned from looks of scepticism to smiles. I discussed the negative impacts of the existing systems that have lead to the poor communication of health records and personal data breaches, and went on to educate the audience on how such issues could be addressed by utilising blockchain technology.

Following the talks, I sat alongside my fellow presenters to discuss questions presented by the audience. The main discussion in reference to Medicalchain involved the protection of patient data. A question, that I found interesting was;

Myth №1

“How does Medicalchain keep patient data private, when information stored on blockchain can be visible to all?”

This question was one of many, that illustrated a misunderstanding or misconception surrounding the technology.

The notion that, every project that utilises blockchain technology enables full visibility of data with anyone, using the technology, is a common myth that requires busting! I often ask people how they have come to this conclusion? And the usual response is along the lines of,

“because that is how bitcoin works, you can see where all bitcoin is, because the blockchain records all the transfers of cryptocurrency from one wallet to another.”

Since blockchain technology was adopted for Bitcoin there has been an incomprehensible amount of progress across a plethora of sectors, resulting in the development of many different blockchain technologies. Each technology can function in a different way, depending on how the platforms are designed and engineered, to suit the needs of the end users.

As the first real life application of blockchain technology, it makes sense that people continue to compare all projects to bitcoin, however, if public misconceptions are not addressed now, they could perpetuate and ultimately affect the adoption of blockchain technologies. Stifling solutions that could address issues such as lack of transparency, fraudulent activities and poor communications of records, in healthcare.

I explained that Medicalchain utilises hyperledger fabric, a blockchain framework that has enabled our team to build a platform, which gives patients the power to decide who can see their healthcare records, including what part of their healthcare records they can see, and for what length of time. In contrast to the type of blockchain Bitcoin uses, which gives other users the ability to see the number of bitcoins moved from one user’s wallet, to another.

Attending the One HealthTech event opened my eyes to the increasing number of people keen to learn about blockchain technology. No longer are we seeing audiences of just technology specialists, or technology advocates at blockchain technology events. Instead, front-line health professionals and policy decision makers are now paying attention.

However, by adding the inquisitive to audiences with experts, pitching presentations and writing posts to ensure we are not perpetuating myths, becomes a little trickier. There is plenty of material to explain the complexities of blockchain technology, to those already in the industry, but what information is available for others keen to learn more about blockchain technology but with no clue where to start?

If people only have mainstream newspapers to rely on for their information, or references that are too complex to interpret, we risk perpetuating the myths that exist across the general population. On top of this we may also cause interested parties to shy away, if their questions are left unanswered.

So, how are we going to tackle this?

If you are a blockchain beginner…

Explore the text out there!

To read more on the general features and potential benefits of blockchain technology, I recommend starting with The Blockchain Revolution, written by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott. The use of real life analogies scattered throughout the book are really useful for understanding the technology, without the jargon.

There are other books that offer a good overview, but this is my personal favourite. You can visit the website here.

Meet the minds behind the projects

With the speed of development within the sector, books and published journals often find it difficult to keep up. A great way to learn and stay up to date is to talk directly with the people that are transforming industries with blockchain technology.

You can find thought leaders on twitter or, if you want to meet thought leaders, and talk over a beer, water, or wine, Meetup organisers host a variety of free events on blockchain technology.

I hope to see you all in one of the many London or international blockchain technology events.

If you are a blockchain advocate…

Make Written Text Accessible

Have a think about writing about blockchain technology, in an accessible manner. Use your imagination and try to create real life analogies.

Bring People Together

Talk to people that you may not think would be interested in blockchain technology and be aware that the language you are most familiar with may not be understood by all. Be patient with people, after all, the mainstream is the majority and without their support we have no revolution.

I am also open to suggestions in terms of reading material to suggest to our new blockchain for healthcare followers. Please do feel free to comment below.

Have a wonderful day.

Natalie Furness

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Natalie Furness

Natalie Furness

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SAAS, APP and Marketplace, CRM centric multichannel digital marker. Scaling start-ups.