The rise of Blockchain powered data marketplaces applied to Healthcare

In the last two decades, digital marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon have grown to surpass traditional marketplaces. Today, Amazon boast of 43% of the US retail industry market-share. The phenomenal growth of Amazon from a humble book-store to a conglomerate has spurred and motivated the growth of other digital marketplaces in other industries such as transport, tourism, accommodation, and electronics. Today companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Expedia, Amazon, and eBay are considered market leaders in their respective industries.

Despite the massive success of the digital marketplace culture we are yet to see a successful healthcare related marketplace. This has been largely due to the sensitive nature of the healthcare industry. While still, it’s in its nascent stages, the concept of a Telemedicine marketplace powered by blockchain has generated significant interest from the industry. Start-ups and recognized players are slowly warming up to the idea of a blockchain-based marketplace for healthcare services.


Data is the currency of the future.

With the increased digitization of most of the society functions, data is rapidly moving at the center of all human activities. Today, companies like Google and Facebook rake billions of data by sharing user data with advertisers. As the web continues to grow more people will interact it and the data universe will continue to balloon exponentially.

Medical data is one of the most valuable sets of data records available today. A study by Forbes magazine indicates that a patient’s medical data could be valued at more than $1000. With tokenization of these records using blockchain, users can generate massive value from their own data. Further, tokenization of health data would place patient’s at the center of the ecosystem since they hold the ability to allow or deny access to their data.


Statistics on health data.

A 2017 report by the World Health Organization(WHO) indicates that over half of the world population (approx 3.8 million people) lack access to basic health services. Moreover, the price of medical services continues to rise each passing day. In the US, for instance, the average cost of treatment annually is $10345, this figure is projected to rise to over $15,000 by 2023. Further, reports indicate that close to 100 million people are being run into poverty courtesy of the ever increasing health expenses.

Another study by Transparency Market Research indicates that the global health market is projected to reach an astounding value of $536.6 billion by 2025. A substantial part of this projection will mainly emanate from monetization of patients and individual health data records. Additionally, studies conducted to evaluate patients willingness to share personal data for care improvement indicate that 54% of users are willing to share their data with the promise of incentive. A similar study in Germany also indicates that 79% of online users would appreciate the power to decide who can view their data.


Benefits and application of Blockchain marketplaces.

In 2017, a consortium of healthcare players and the banner of EY released a whitepaper that has been widely lauded as a blueprint for health care marketplaces powered by blockchain. The whitepaper proposes two models of either an altruistic or incentive driven marketplace. Given that there are multiple data providers an altruistic platform will be handed the challenge of creating one single source of truth. Instead, an incentive-based platform will allow buyers and sellers to choose who they want to buy or sell to. Despite selling your data blockchain tokenization will still allow you to restrict how the buyer uses your data. Blockchain allows enforcement of ownership rules that will ensure your data is not used for the wrong purpose or sold to another data broker.

Overall blockchain tokenization will allow users to transform their data into digital assets. These digital assets can be monitored and controlled by the user. Additionally, the users are rewarded with incentives for sharing their data. Whether you know it or not your data is currently being used for medical studies, hence blockchain marketplaces are only helping you to monetize and control usage of your data.

Data ownership startup Hu-manity.co is currently developing digital marketplace that will allow patients to sell their medical data to drug manufacturers for the purpose of drug trials. The company’s CEO Richie Etwaru explains that the idea behind Hu-manity is converting user data to a digital property. The company aims at pooling large swathes of data together in order to gain leverage against corporations which have inherently ignored data and privacy rights.


Conclusion

For us, it’s obvious that blockchain powered data marketplaces are the missing link to motivate people to digitize their personal health data. Reward mechanisms will provide users with incentives and motivation to share their data in a totally an anonymous way. Users will be more motivated to share their data with research institutions, since they can receive utility tokens which they can use within the network. Overall, this will help in easing the cost of healthcare, since some amount can be offset using the rewards of selling their anonymized data.

Overall, blockchain tokenization offers an exciting platform for supporting and promoting healthcare marketplaces. With the desire to earn incentives and the demonstrated willingness to share information it’s only a matter of time before healthcare marketplaces take center stage. And just like the unicorns the last two decades (read Amazon and Uber) the healthcare marketplace is poised for an explosion.