South Korea and China turn to blockchain tech to secure health data
China's National Health Commission policy document highlights use in data sharing, South Korean startup gets investment from government for clinical research platform, and Owkin raises $18m more
Every week I write about blockchain technology, healthcare, and related topics. Subscribe to get analysis of the latest updates and ideas every Sunday, as well as periodic essays on related topics from me. You can expect an essay this week examining blockchain business networks in healthcare.
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On to this week’s newsletter:
Blockchain and healthcare updates
China’s National Health Commission, a cabinet level agency, authored this policy document which sets out priorities for improving healthcare technology that could be used in future pandemics. Here’s the Google translate’d section relevant to blockchain technology:
8. Strengthen data sharing. For Internet hospitals as the second name, local health departments should promote data sharing and business collaboration between Internet hospitals and physical medical institutions as soon as possible. Promote the data connection between Internet hospitals and regional information platforms and medical institutions at all levels, connect the online and offline service links, and provide patients with full-process continuous services covering before, during and after diagnosis. Explore the construction of a patient-led medical data sharing mechanism, and apply blockchain and other technologies to achieve safe flow and authorized access.
This comes after blockchain tech was used in China’s initial pandemic response in a few different ways. Further, last year President Xi himself announced blockchain technology was a strategic priority for China, and he explicitly called out healthcare as one area of focus.
The geopolitical importance of blockchain tech was a trend I highlighted in my 2019 review. Support from high level government officials helps to coordinate activity, bolster investment, and ease regulatory pathways. There has been some of this in the EU, but comparatively little in America. I hope that changes soon.
A last story on this note: Beijing sets up special fund in bid to become a blockchain hub by 2022.
Owkin is the technology partner behind several federated learning networks in healthcare, like MELLODDY and the AI4VBH. After announcing their $25m raise just a few weeks ago Owkin announced another $18m investment from Mubadala Capital and Bpifrance. That brings their seed round to just over $43m, and total funding to $70m. That is the most money raised of any healthcare startup with blockchain technology at the core of what they do.
It was also interesting to me that both of these investors are public sector entities: Bpifrance is the Public Investment Bank of France and Mubadala Capital is an arm of a sovereign wealth fund.
You can view a few more details in SendSquare’s press release here. In short, a South Korean public agency is investing money into domestic blockchain companies to conduct proof-of-concepts. SendSquare received money to develop a clinical research data platform that would support research using real world data. Blockchain technology is used to provide guarantees of integrity so that third parties can be sure that no data has been unduly altered.
As the title suggests, I moderated a panel discussion on privacy and utility of health data. My panelists were a business and policy expert, a technologist, as well as a practicing physician and bioethicist. I thought the interdisciplinary nature made this a fun and interesting conversation. Check it out and let me know what you think.
What I’m reading this weekend
a16z crypto startup school released videos of their course and there is valuable content for both beginners and experts there.
Hyperledger Besu released version 1.5 this week, a number of extra privacy focused features were added in this release.
What’s new in ETH2: always hard to keep up with what’s going on with ETH2, but this update is nice.
I find it very interesting to read about vulnerabilities found in smart contracts that have millions of dollars on the line.
How much more productive could this make the average software engineer? 10X? 100X? I wonder if it can write in other languages too, particularly those that are hard to learn or niche, like COBALT.
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