ECHAlliance Member Guardtime Health publishes White Paper on Blockchain in Health

13th May 2019
Ain Aaviksoo, Guardtime Health

Visible data will transform healthcare

The healthcare industry is facing many unique challenges that must be addressed simultaneously in order for all stakeholders in the care pathway to benefit fully from the promise of precision medicine and technology.

Chief Medical Officer at Guardtime Health, Ain Aaviksoo, explains these challenges and how blockchain and other new technologies can contribute to solving them.

New approaches needed for old challenges

There has been unprecedented scientific progress in understanding systems biology and the true cause of diseases in recent years, leading to a new era in precision medicine. Whilst still in its infancy, this new era of understanding coupled with the rapidly evolving capabilities around data processing (big data analytics, machine learning …) and data capture (smartphones, wearables…), patient outcomes can be greatly improved as long as health care systems are able to adapt in line with these innovations. However, we still face the non-trivial challenge of integrating multiple care providers across the broader healthcare ecosystem in order to facilitate a much needed sea-change in health provision, one that revolves around patients and their needs. On the other hand the much needed rapid development is constrained by justified concern about the opaqueness of personal health data use in the complex world. Today patients are demanding more than ever the right to be in control of their personal health data. All-or-nothing type personal health data sharing
paradigm is not feasible.

Hence, a reasonable new solution is needed to balance personal and societal benefits. Otherwise the promise of these innovations will not reach all citizens equally due to rapid increases in healthcare costs, which are predicted to reach $8.7 trillion by 2020 and grow further.

Trusted health data ecosystem is flexible

This re-imagined ecosystem dynamics warrants uptake of new advances in technology while not losing sight of the truly patient centric healthcare goal. Healthcare providers must overcome the inherent lack of interoperability between legacy systems, while embracing new avenues for patient-reported and patient-controlled data. Trustworthy “data economy” also requires a single version of truth – a truth with immutable integrity, veracity and provenance such that medical data becomes undisputed/ respected by all the ecosystems’ participants. Incorporating patient consent dynamically into varying workflows will offer additional opportunities for patients to stay in charge of their medical data and how it’s consumed by third parties.

Under such conditions it is possible to differentiate the health data access for visibility (ie data can be analyzed by computers without sharing between organisations) or liquidity (seamless transfer of data between systems) depending on the use-case, so that citizens’ control of their data is not compromised.

New technologies enable smart privacy protection

Arguing who owns health data and what does this ownership mean in practice or how much individuals owe to society in return for new treatment opportunities takes a long time and much energy. Most probably there is no simple solution that pleases all. Instead, Guardtime has developed a blockchain-backed HSX health platform, which creates a trusted data and information ecosystem for patients, providers, payers, regulators and pharma to collaborate, allowing each stakeholder to have or see (subject to consent) the information they need to provide more effective patient care. Data privacy is a major concern across all actors in the ecosystem and to address this, HSX is capable of summarizing (from various stakeholders & sources) and presenting only the necessary or agreed patient information without the need to reveal all the underlying data.

When data does need to travel, for example between providers for elective interventions, or if consent has been given for data to be used for research purposes, we enable data liquidity. It means the exchange of personally identifiable health data and / or proprietary patient data between HSX ecosystem participants with blockchain backed proofs of where the data came from, who created it, with whom it was shared and for what purpose.

The cornerstone of data-liquidity is patient consent which ensures patients are able to choose how their data is used, how it will be shared and for what purpose.

But when data itself is not needed, but only the trusted proof if something did happen or if broad aggregation is used instead of monitoring detailed individuals, it is data visibility that should be pursued. Data-visibility describes the ability to provide summaries or specific aspects of health /
patient data without revealing any personally identifiable or business-confidential information to HSX ecosystem participants. Like data-liquidity, this comes with blockchain backed proofs of where the data came from, who created it, with whom it was shared and for what purpose with the added capability of being able to prove the computational correctness of the analytics run on the data without the data moving.

Bringing data to life

Guardtime has taken a mission to bring health data to life. Therefore, if Google organizes the world’s information and makes it universally available, then Guardtime’s mission is to validate that information and makes it universally reliable.

In order to deliver on this promise, Guardtime has built its HSX platform on top of its KSI blockchain to deliver unparalleled protection for authenticity, integrity, secure transfer and provenance of any shared data, including safeguarding patient privacy, while providing flexible interplay of data liquidity and visibility across traditional workflows and boundaries. The platform acts like a global brain and nervous system that assures trustworthy, regulatory compliant health data across the health ecosystem.

Guardtime’s HSX platform is in live commercial use within the Estonian health-care system and by global biotechnology companies. It enables tailored application development through APIs and solutions for:

  1. Intelligent data visibility and liquiditymanagement;
  2. decentralised data access for outcome based contracting;
  3. managing pharma supply-chain accountability and visibility;
  4. innovative clinical trials patientrecruitment, follow-up and data management;
  5. managing care quality with digital infrastructure.

With deep roots in academia and Estonian digital society foundation, Guardtime’s research knowhow is devoted to building breakthrough technologies and applications in cryptography and
computer sciences. With over 40 patents granted since 2007 and more pending, Guardime has a proven track record in transforming foundational research into practical solutions.

Guardtime Health is dedicated to bridge the gap between patients, providers, payers, regulators and life science companies by seamlessly enabling secure information flow across multiple stakeholders delivering secure use of a single truthful version of health data.

More information

Further information about the Guardtime Health and HSX can be found at https://guardtime.com/health and from the recent whitepaper – Healthcare in transformation.

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