An EHR project launches their own public blockchain and several blockchain communities debate how to fund development efforts
|Robert Miller||Aug 4, 2019|
A quick note
Hey everyone -
The new platform is live. There are a few things to be worked out still (I think some links are broken, and I need to retire the old newsletter service) but we’re mostly there. My newsletter can be found on SubStack and you’ll get it in your inbox every Sunday from this address. Otherwise you don’t have to do anything.
Blockchain in healthcare updates
MediBloc’s mainnet “Panacea” was launched on the 31st as their genesis block was minted. Panacea is a public blockchain using delegated proof-of-stake and leveraging TenderMint. It is similar to EOS in style, and although blocks are being produced, as far as I can tell you can’t actually use it for anything right now. In the future MediBloc hopes it will be used for all the things you would expect a blockchain is used for in an EHR project: access management, immutable references of consent, verifiability of patient data, facilitating payments, etc.
But those are all things that can be achieved by using an existing blockchain. So why did MediBloc choose to launch their own public blockchain?
Creating a public blockchain is a necessary, but not sufficient, step towards "decentralizing” a project.
Separate chains give you have more autonomy over network parameters (e.g you can use whatever consensus mechanism you would like).
Moreover, you are able to scale more because by decoupling from the computational overhead that other projects on a public blockchains generate.
Unless you need all three of these things, and your own currency, I don’t think it makes sense to launch your public blockchain. A handful of projects built on Ethereum have some kind of decentralized governance (e.g MakerDAO), but they don’t need the autonomy that comes with having their own blockchain. On the other end if you simply wanted more autonomy over the blockchain you’re built on, but didn’t care to be decentralized, you would just run a private blockchain. It remains to be seen whether MediBloc can get others to run nodes (right now they run all 21, I think) and build on their new blockchain, as well whether they can successfully decentralize their governance process.
Orderly Health is bringing its expertise in AI and BurstIQ is lending its blockchain platform to create a provider data management system. It’ll be interesting to contrast this solution with that of the Synaptic Health Alliance, and I’m curious if the blockchain solution they’ve created is useful standalone or if it requires a network of users to provide value.
Cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018 and efforts are underway to create blockchain enabled supply chains to support the traceability requirements stipulated by the Canadian federal government. Several producers, most recently Flowr, have joined a pilot by Shoppers Drug Mart to that end.
The stablecoin Walmart applied for a patent for could be pegged to the dollar, or any currency, and it is intended to provide a “low or no cost” way of storing funds, similar to Libra. Moreover, its usage might be restricted to only selected retailers or partners. A stablecoin powered payment system could reduce b2b transaction fees by up to 60%, and b2c transaction fees by a commensurate amount. Any reduction in these fees would be extremely valuable for the retail giant which has $500b in annual revenues. Further, managing a stablecoin is an extremely lucrative business if you can get scale, which is one reason why Goldman Sach’s CEO said to assume all major financial institutions were looking at the potential of stablecoins. Perhaps we’ll be paying for prescriptions in WalCoin sometime in the future.
Kinesis, an ICO which is also creating gold and silver stablecoins, invested in and partnered with Rejuvenan, a digital wellness company. The idea is that Rejuvenan will use the “operational infrastructure” of Kinesis to create its own rewards program to incentivize healthy lifestyles. It’s not clear what the rewards program of Rejuvenan will look like, but presumably Kinesis invested in Rejuvenan to drive usage of their native currency. In general I don’t think anyone has cracked the code of generating sustainable value with a token and driving behavior change at scale, so I would advise companies to use USD denominated stablecoins.
What I’m reading this weekend
Truffle is a suite of tools, borne out of ConsenSys, for developers to more quickly deploy blockchain solutions. Until now those tools have been restricted to Ethereum, but Truffle will be offering tools for Hyperledger Fabric, Tezos, and R3’s Corda in the future. The inclusion of Tezos in this mix is a sign of its growing popularity as a smart contract platform. Moreover, Truffle has a stated goal of building for enterprises, so these tools will help accelerate enterprise adoption of blockchains.
(disclaimer: I work for ConsenSys Health)
The tl;dr of this is it is a basic form of a neural network which runs entirely on-chain. Using a blockchain for this process enables more collaborative and transparent forms of training an AI. I’m keenly watching this space for future developments.
Several public blockchain communities are in the midst of contentious debates on potential models for sustainable development going forward. One in particular, Zcash, has historically devoted a % of new issuances (called the “Founder’s Reward”) to professional teams that work on the underlying technology, educate regulators, and perform general business development. With these funds Zcash has received some world class cryptography work and lobbying for favorable treatment from regulators in the US. On the other hand, as Wilcox points out, all of the value that comes from the Founder’s Reward is derived from, and potentially dilutes, coin-holders. That’s why the Ethereum community vociferously pushed back against a similar proposal to fund ~$2m worth of development for the next 18 months.
Zcash’s Founder’s Reward is set to sunset soon (it was slated to continue only for the first 4 years), and the community will need to decide whether or not it will renew it. Zooko Wilcox, founder of Zcash and cryptography pioneer, wrote a letter to the community giving context and asking them to renew the Founder’s Reward. It is a good letter, and the debate is emblematic of a broader discussion around funding that will remain a constant point of discussion and contention in the blockchain space.