Anthem is rolling out a blockchain health data product for its 40m members in the next 3 years

Blockchain in healthcare updates

Anthem rolling out blockchain initiative to secure 40 million patient’s data in the next three years

A handful of details on Anthem’s blockchain activities are revealed here. In particular they are rolling out a pilot to use a blockchain for access management to patient health data and seek to expand that to all 40 million of their members in the next three years:

Executives at Anthem, which has patient medical data based on insurance claims, believe that using blockchain will give patients more immediate access to their records as well as allow them to control who views their health data. 

In the current Anthem pilot program, users can open an app on their phones, scan a QR code, and instantly grant different healthcare providers access to their health records— but only for a limited amount of time. As soon as the appointment is over, users can revoke access and make their medical records private again. This system is live for a pilot test group of about 200 company employees, Ronanki says, and Anthem plans to roll it out in phases to members beginning in 2020.

One interesting thing to note here is that this innovation is coming from an enterprise and not a startup despite tens of millions of $ being raised by healthcare ICOs in 2017/2018 to create exactly this product. This is not all that surprising given the edge that enterprises have in both distribution and existing infrastructure. Put another way: it is much easier to deploy a new feature that uses a blockchain to an existing health data product than it is to create everything from anew.

Moreover, this could have a big impact on the broader ecosystem. Depending on how many of Anthem’s 40m members use it, this utility could become the most used blockchain product of any industry in the US when fully deployed. For comparison Bitcoin itself is estimated at having ~12m - 20m owners (note: not users), and the most popular dApps have only a few thousands weekly users! Blockchain in healthcare will be decisively mainstream when this is launched to 40m people.

As a last note there remains, as there always does, a handful of unanswered questions. How open will this solution be? Can I use Anthem’s blockchain-enabled app for all of my healthcare data? Do I want to (who runs the nodes here anyway?) Does this move force Anthem’s competitors to adopt similar tech? Are they working on open standards for blockchain based access management? Will this be complimentary to their involvement in the consortia? If folks from Anthem are reading this and want to chat about these questions then email me and I’ll publish the answers on next week’s issue.

On the other side of the globe, MediBloc releases claims product

MediBloc is a South Korean project that raised money through an ICO back in 2017. They’ve landed a handful of partnerships and launched their own public blockchain, though until now I’ve never actually seen any healthcare product they’ve made. They launched a product around insurance claims, using a blockchain in this to prove the integrity of data as well as manage access. They have some screenshots of the product in the above article, which are cool to see. Another interesting thing: because MediBloc has a public blockchain we can actually see how many people are using this new solution when it is launched.

Blockchain and healthcare jobs board

After independently talking to a handful of entrepreneurs looking for staff and people looking to break in the space I realized I was the middle party to both sides! So I’m starting a simple spreadsheet with companies in the space that have open positions hoping to help people connect. I listed a few companies off the top of my head here, but if you’re building in this space and have open positions feel free to email me at and I’ll add your positions to the list. If there is demand for this kind of thing I’ll spend more time building out the spreadsheet as well.

Podcast: Provider Identity Proofing with Charlie Lougheed (CEO Axuall)

What I’m reading this weekend

Multicoin Capital: The Web3 Stack

A dense overview of the landscape of web3 and the different technologies that make up its stack. As a reminder, “web3” broadly refers to the next-generation of the Internet, loosely organized around principles of user-controlled data and identity and open platforms. In order to realize this we have to create an entirely new “stack” of technologies that make up the Internet and the services we use today, lest we leave some latent centralization that acts as an Achilles Heel of the web3. Blockchains play a central role in this vision, though they are not the only technology at play.

Anyway, Multicoin lays out the many parts of this new stack and highlights some projects building each part. Moreover, in reflecting on the last year or so of progress in this stack they make two observations:

  1. There is increasing heterogeneity and fragmentation in the web3 ecosystem as different communities have sprung up around new smart contract platforms. Moreover, there is a uncertainty involved in the transition to ETH2.0.

  2. Middleware projects, like decentralized finance or cross-chain interoperability, have become much more prominent.

Twitter CEO: we’re funding a small team to develop an open standard for social media

The idea being that Twitter would then be one client, among many, on top of this open standard similar to how there are many email clients ontop of SMTP, browsers on HTTPs, or, wallets on top of Bitcoin/Ethereum/Libra/etc. This would enable portability of identities (e.g. I could take my Twitter identity and data and use it on a competing service) as well as decentralize control over the underlying content.

Though the underlying content would be uncensorable, different clients could choose how to surface that content in different ways. Depending on user’s preferences, we would likely see communities coalescing around different sets of governance rules. For example, different communities could have different interpretations of what constitutes acceptable speech, and users could self-select into those communities. Or you might see different variations in incentives; one can imagine a client optimizing for outrage and another client optimizing for healthy conversation. Critically, users would be able to seamlessly move between these clients.

Moreover, there is a clear line you can draw between this announcement, Facebook’s Supreme Court, and Libra: big tech companies are decentralizing themselves. By instituting an independent review of controversial content that can overrule even Zuck himself, Facebook is giving up some control. But in turn, they are no longer making unilateral decisions over what content is permissible, and can’t be accused of using their enormously powerful platform in an inappropriate way (albeit only in narrow cases that the independent review is used for). Similarly for Twitter, although they would give up control by implementing a decentralized social media standard, they would no longer be the single arbiter of content decisions, with all the responsibility and liability that entails.

And this is the point that I am seeking to make. While there are high minded reasons to decentralize ultimately I think the incentive comes down to this: if you have control over user’s content you will be held responsible for it. Decentralizing parts of your business might mean giving up control, but it also sheds liability.

What remains to be seen is if this transition is tenable, as some stakeholders will worry about the consequences of companies giving up control, and how companies can capture value in this dynamic as well.

An interesting case study: an EOS app leaving the platform

The tl;dr version of this story is that EOS has a very complex system for allocating resources on their network and it’s not working well right now. Users have to stake up to $100 to make a single transaction on a network that billed itself as a scalable alternative to existing blockchains. As such users and developers are looking for alternatives, and this project decided to talk openly about their concerns in a bid for reform.

Barbarians on the blockchain: crypto M&A

There’s a lot of interesting data here. 350 acquisitions worth $4bn dollars have taken place since 2013, with most of this being driven by exchanges looking for acquihires and strategic technology assets.

Debate over the ONC’s proposed API rules

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