[Update] Progress on antibody testing and EHR solutions

Updates on MediBloc, Rymedi, and where I stand on recent events

Where I stand

My newsletter is, and will remain, primarily about healthcare and technology. But recent events have provided a rare case where I feel compelled to deviate from those subjects.

I stand firmly against unwarranted violence and abuse of power by police, and in particular its disproportionate impact on black communities. The murder of George Floyd is an appalling injustice among a long list of other appalling injustices - of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, and many others.

These are extremely visible cases of a more insidious, systemic racism pervading our society, and the healthcare community needs to step up and do more. After all, beyond being a human rights issue, systemic racism is a healthcare issue! For two illustrative examples consider the following: first, police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. About 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police. Second, black patients are very underrepresented in the development of cutting edge medicine (oncology) and medicine for disease areas that disproportionately affect black people (cardiovascular disease). These are two among many examples.

I also stand with those who are marching for accountability and justice. Unwarranted attempts by law enforcement to disrupt peaceful protests with violence are inexcusable, and strike at the very core of the public’s freedoms. If you are like me and are worried about the pandemic, then I would encourage you to do your part through education and action. To start these are some Twitter threads I found insightful and you should check out the 8 can’t wait campaign too.

Blockchain in healthcare updates

Rymedi and Kahala biosciences partner on COVID-19 antibody testing solution

Kahali bioscience’s Adiona platform is a rapid point-of-care (POC) IgG/IgM fingerstick antibody test that is tracked on a blockchain, thus allowing the kit to be verified as authentic. Further, they use a blockchain to provide tamper proof antibody test results to 3rd parties (e.g. employers), and say this “facilitates decisionmaking between employer and employee, so no other identification or testing is required to certify employee COVID-19 status” although it is not clear to me how this is done without some identification.

The blockchain part of this solution is powered by Rymedi, who has created a range of solutions across healthcare. They are participating in a webinar this coming Tuesday if you are interested in hearing more.

MediBloc looks back at the past three years

MediBloc, a Korean startup that did an ICO to build out blockchain and health data infrastructure, is the most active project of that era and to the extent that I can I try to pay attention to what they are up to. Here they review three years of progress, describing their past partnerships and future plans. Their goal for 2020 is:

Our goals this year, then, are to complete our patient-centered healthcare information platform, integrate MediBloc’s solutions at each interface of healthcare, and deliver an entirely new experience.

Quite ambitious! You can see a bit about their EHR here, though it is mostly in Korean. It’s not immediately clear to me how blockchain is used here, but their medical claims solution uses a blockchain to prove the integrity of data as well as manage access. The issues for adoption of such a tool are two-fold: first the adoption barriers any new EHR faces (interoperability, high switching costs for users of existing EHRs, etc) and second barriers that are blockchain specific (business model, privacy, scaling, and UI/UX). Nonetheless, I am excited to see the concrete steps they are taking to launch a blockchain based EHR, and am keenly interested in how the market responds.

What I’m reading this weekend

The State of ETH2.0

An excellent overview by Danny Ryan (who is a “coordinator” for much of the ETH2.0 work) of the work that’s being done to create “ETH2.0,” essentially the next generation of Ethereum.

Where did the grandeur go?

This piece really resonated with me. We need stories about the future that are radically different from the present. Stories that are ambitious, but achievable, and inspire us to take action.

Health Unchained episode on Health Data Privacy

I was a big fan of Vince and Deven’s series on the Health Data Dilemma, so I was excited to see them interviewed by Ray on Health Unchained.

South Korea opens a state sanctioned financial data exchange

As American and Europe become increasingly privacy minded South Korea seems to be moving in the opposite direction. The above article cites the passage of bills that achieve what deidentification does in America, and it seems the government is sponsoring the creation of an “exchange” for buyers and sellers to exchange deidentified financial data. I’m told that a healthcare version will be rolled out in the fall. Nice to see government encouraged innovation, but I am uneasy about how this will turn out and would prefer consumers have more agency over their data.

On the other hand if deidentified data is going to be sold I would prefer it happen in a regulated and transparent venue, like the aforementioned exchange. This is a step up from the vast and opaque markets for deidentified data that exist in America.

Thanks to Elly Lee for sharing this with me on my Telegram group.

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