Personalized medicine supply chains, verified credentials, digital currency health incentives, & more
Welcome to all the new subscribers. Every week I write about blockchain technology, healthcare, and related topics. On Sundays I analyze the latest updates and ideas from that week and every few weeks I publish additional essays on related topics.
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On to this week’s newsletter:
Blockchain and healthcare updates
I covered a lot and couldn’t go in depth on everything. Were there any subjects that you thought merit a deeper dive? Feel free to reply to this email or comment to let me know what you think.
Personalized medicines, by definition, are specific to individuals. For example, in autologous cell therapy an individual’s cells are taken out of their body, manipulated, and then reintroduced to their body. The very nature of personalized medicines demand high assurances of trust and integrity because giving the wrong medicine to the wrong person, or making it the wrong way, would mean that the medicine isn’t personalized anymore! Compounding this is the complexity of the supply chains to make most personalized medicines.
Blockchain technology can help by providing an audit trail of the supply chain and a source of truth for patient identity. Hypertrust’s blockchain product does that and helps orchestrate personalized medicine supply chains. This week they announced it would be used live in Transgene’s clinical trial for their individualized immuotherapy product. Very cool to see blockchain tech be used in production like this.
Under the US Drug Supply Chain Safety Act (“DSCSA”) wholesalers need to verify with manufacturers that drugs which are returned to them are legitimate. It may be the case that a wholesaler needs to do this with a manufacturer that they don’t have an established relationship with. In this case some channel would be opened and a check would be done to ensure each party is authorized to make or process a verification request. Keep in mind the need for speed here as well. Spherity worked with Novartis and SAP to conduct a proof-of-concept that uses verifiable credentials representing licensing information to facilitate this process.
Further, they gesture towards a larger pilot that looks to be a follow up to the FDA DSCSA pilot projects:
After having successfully proven this concept, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance and the Center for Supply Chain Studies started a pilot project with a group of manufacturers, wholesalers, VRS providers, identity wallet providers like Spherity and credential issuance bodies. Together with leading pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers, the project team fundamentally develops an interoperable industry solution with the goal of enabling all trading partners to meet their respective Authorized Trading Partner requirements under DSCSA.
In July and August, insurance company Daido Life Insurance is running a proof of concept (PoC) for a Daido Life branded digital currency. The trial involves 100 Daido Life employees who will hold the currency in a digital wallet, use the money to buy items and potentially receive coins based on their behavior.
From the article, basically they will be paying people fiat currency represented as a token on a blockchain to do things that would make them more healthy. What US insurer will be the first to do something similar?
On a related note China’s digital currency is being tested out on ride hailing service Didi.
What I’m reading this weekend
Imagine you have two hospitals that share a common patient, and each has a different view of that patient’s health records. Either institution’s data, taken alone, doesn’t provide a complete view of a patient’s health history. So, if you would like to derive accurate analytics on this patient you would need both sets of data.
But you may not know that these hospitals share the same patient. Figuring that out, and doing any analytics, usually requires sharing patient information.
This general (not specific to healthcare) problem, of matching different sets of data across entities and doing analytics without sharing data, is what Facebook is trying to solve with their work in this blog post. Specifically they improved on existing techniques for matching sets of data in a privacy preserving way to then be able to better use other privacy preserving technologies to do cross-organizational privacy preserving analytics.
I think there is great potential for this technology in healthcare, though a lack of a standardized patient identity will be a clear barrier for adoption in healthcare.
People are bored at home and doing stuff like this. This story will probably not end well, but it is pretty funny.
A good article on the story of Slate Star Codex and more broadly some of the dynamics driving Silicon Valley’s increasing tension with the media.
Lots of interesting bits of information here — too much for me to breakdown in any reasonable way. Do give it a read.
Aggregate transaction fees are a good indicator of the health and usage of a public blockchain. It is really hard to game these over a long period of time, so I watch these measures to see what public blockchains people are actually using. Right now that is Bitcoin, Ethereum, and basically nothing else is being substantially used.
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