COVID-19 Boosts Interest in Healthcare and Medical Blockchain Applications

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By Michela Menting | 2Q 2020 | IN-5795

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the MiPasa blockchain platform, built on the Hyperledger Fabric, which aims to share data and other relevant information related to COVID-19 with appropriate parties, including individuals, state authorities, and health institutions such as hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). The platform will take the form of a permissioned ledger that can securely share information about carriers (while preserving privacy) and infection hotspots through a crowdsourced data-gathering process.

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WHO Sets up Data Sharing Platform with Tech Giants

NEWS


The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the MiPasa blockchain platform, built on the Hyperledger Fabric, which aims to share data and other relevant information related to COVID-19 with appropriate parties, including individuals, state authorities, and health institutions such as hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). The platform will take the form of a permissioned ledger that can securely share information about carriers (while preserving privacy) and infection hotspots through a crowdsourced data-gathering process.

MiPasa has been developed in collaboration with IBM (it is leveraging the IBM Blockchain Platform and is hosted on the IBM Cloud), Microsoft and Oracle (the latter two providing data analytics and cloud support), and Hacera (which provides the onboarding processes through is Unbounded Network). MiPasa further benefits from the support of various institutions and agencies that provide data, including the Hong Kong Department of Health; Johns Hopkins University; the Government of Canada; the U.S., E.U., and Chinese Centers for Disease Control (CDCs); and the National Health Commission in China and the Weather Channel.

Blockchain Technology to Provide Security and Integrity

IMPACT


The advantage of a blockchain platform is that it can correlate information from multiple different sources and reconcile them to provide data that has been verified by the group and is free of errors, inconsistencies, and false information. The validation from the different nodes provides integrity to the data that is eventually cemented into the blockchain. As such, it offers trustworthiness as to the value of the data contained therein.

In essence, MiPasa provides attested data using three types of validations: reconciliation of disparate data sources like the WHO figures, the CDC figures, and others; ensuring new data entered into the system matches the original; and validation from the public, who can report inconsistencies or bad data. This is significant in a climate where the pandemic is highly politicized, misinformation on the seriousness of the virus is rife, and charlatans and snake oil salesmen are riding the wave of panic and fear to flog false cures, useless medicines, and subpar medical equipment, among other things.

The platform is still in the development phase, as the group is looking for additional researchers to help develop and improve the platform with statistical analysis, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). But the potential impact that such a platform can have is significant, notably in an age where reliable real-time updates on the progress of infections and containment is of the utmost urgency and importance.

Enabling Data Sharing, Improving Supply Chains, and Delivering Healthcare

RECOMMENDATIONS


MiPasa is one of a flurry of new healthcare-based blockchain applications emerging under the shadow of COVID-19: ConsenSys Health recently launched a Stop COVID-19 Ethereum Blockchain Hackathon to rapidly create relevant solutions. TerraHub Technologies offers a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for hospitals and health care workers to verify and track test results and self-assessments. Snark Health focuses on prevention solutions for COVID-19 by enabling data sharing and learning. In China, a number of hospitals are collaborating with blockchain companies and pharmacies to deliver patients’ medication to their homes.  

The potential is significant. Not only can it provide better data and information sharing about infection, testing, and cures, but it can also provide a useful platform for remote patient monitoring and care leveraging telemedicine and connected medical devices, as well as for the medical supply chain, notably in a climate where there are supply shortages and countries are engaging in sometimes unruly behavior to secure inventory. The promise of blockchain has been evident for the healthcare and medical industry for some time, but perhaps COVID-19 will finally showcase how useful such a technology can be in reality. 

 

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