Blockchain in healthcare updates
Baidu previously launched their own blockchain-as-a-service platform called “Superchain,” and their new healthcare focused project builds on this. English sources are calling this a “big medical network,” though that might just be a case of bad translation. Notably the project will focus on use cases that involve health data, like ensuring the privacy and security of patient data, and Baidu has created a blockchain e-prescribing project to that end.
While progress on blockchain solutions for patient data have slowed in America and Europe there continues to a stream of headlines about progress coming out of eastern Asia. I highlighted a handful of project in South Korea in my last semiannual report (page 22), and there is a similar story to tell about China. But, there is a big information divide between the West and Asian blockchain communities. That divide is so big that we only learned about a year old giant (~$3bn) crypto ponzi scheme in Asia last week. As a result, beyond a handful of headlines here or there, it is hard to tell how much blockchain and healthcare activity there really is. I wouldn’t be surprised if we just didn’t have visibility into a bunch of cool stuff going on. If any of my readers have insight into this community then I’d love to chat about it.
What I'm reading this weekend
I read everything Vitalik writes and this piece focusing on layer 2 scaling solutions is no exception.
Developers are looking for a way to scale blockchains as we come close to the limits of their usability. There are two basic ways to do this:
Improve the “layer 1” or “base layer” blockchain. This is the general premise of second generation of smart contract platforms. As an example, Ethereum 2.0 is moving to proof-of-stake and implementing sharding, Dfinity is building a novel consensus mechanism, Kadena has a completely different model from other blockchains.
Build a “layer 2” of solutions on top of the layer 1 to offload some computation from layer 1. These solutions use data outside of a main blockchain (“off-chain data”) to provide guarantees about assets sitting on the main blockchain (“on-chain data”). For example, off-chain data in a layer 2 solution might give you the right to withdraw an asset held in an escrow contract on the layer 1 chain.
There has been some usage of layer 2 solutions, like in the Burner Wallet and Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, and there is excitement about implementing these solutions at scale. But, like all things blockchain, it is not that simple. Vitalik explains some of the problems with layer 2 solutions and offers thoughts on a new design space of “hybrid layer 2 protocols.”
An anecdote: a few months ago I asked Vitalik “What is an important problem that we don’t spend enough time on?” and he replied “Data availability” which is the subject of much of this blog post.
I’ve taken a handful of Loom’s (free!) courses and they’re great. Looking forward to completing this one.
Dharma previously created their own technology to facilitate lending and borrowing in a decentralized way. But, facing competition and with some technical problems, they pivoted instead to focus on building a user interface on top of their former competitor’s solution. In general this is an interesting case study in competition in the blockchain space and perhaps a sign of consolidation to come.
Allscripts lands a deal with Apple Health Records but on the other hand research finds few patients are using their mobile phones for their health records