Blockchain technology platform Gem has launched Gem Health, an initiative for building an inclusive blockchain ecosystem for healthcare and has partnered with Philips to this effect.
Gem Health endeavours to provide the data infrastructure to support a globally integrated healthcare continuum, said a statement. This includes a community-driven educational component and plans to build a private Ethereum network for developing enterprise healthcare applications.
The launch coincides with Gem's first enterprise partner in healthcare coming on board - Philips' Blockchain Lab. Gem said it is continuing to partner with technology companies, financial institutions, consultancy firms and care providers to take an industry-driven approach to application and infrastructure development.
"Blockchain technology will create a new fabric that connects the entire healthcare industry, weaving together critical data from every stage of the continuum of care," said Micah Winkelspecht, founder and CEO of Gem.
Medical data is the lifeblood of healthcare, creating a profile for every patient that develops in complexity and scope throughout life. Today, medical history is fragmented and siloed, preventing doctors and patients from building a complete record of health. Gem believes that blockchain networks are a scalable solution for shared infrastructure that keeps critical patient data in the right hands.
"Blockchains address the trade-off between data availability and data security," continued Winkelspecht. "For healthcare, this enables hospitals, insurance companies and labs to connect in real-time and share information instantly and seamlessly – without exposing those channels to theft or forgery."
Blockchains are a protocol that produces an irrefutable log of network activity that is both cryptographically secured and relayed across a vast distribution network. Because the integrity of this history can be proved with mathematics, everyone can trust that it is secure and true.
Gem offers GemOS, the basic operating system needed to access, query, programme, record, and authenticate information on a blockchain. Additionally, Gem develops and supports applications for domain specific use cases.
In healthcare, these use cases range from claims processing to genomic data management, but at the core of each is the need for data to be shared seamlessly and secured infallibly.
Blockchains can establish open standards for data recording and identity management. A global healthcare blockchain can record unique patient IDs for each individual that correlates with local hospital or physician records. Blockchain-based universal healthcare IDs can reduce medical errors when onboarding a new patient while maintaining patient privacy, noted Winkelspecht.
Pharmaceutical companies can be equipped with end-to-end visibility in their own supply chains, by providing a tamper-proof and fully auditable record that traces inventory back to the origin. Using a blockchain, basic analytics can prove the authenticity of the product anywhere in the supply chain, he said.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has far-reaching implications in healthcare, as a vast network of connected medical devices like Fitbits, smartwatches, pacemakers, and hearing aids play a key role in preventing illness. A goal for Gem Health is to discover how blockchains can securely aggregate health data from a variety of sources to generate a standardized and complete health record system.
"Disconnected agents – within an organisation or across an entire industry – can now securely converge on the same information," said Winkelspecht. "This will enable a new class of applications that will unlock wasted resources and solve problems in ways we never thought possible."