Email of the day on blockchain and healthcare
Comment of the Day

October 10 2016

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on blockchain and healthcare

Thanks for sharing this article and I look forward to reading your comments after attending the healthcare-focused conference in San Diego. 

Regarding blockchain, I was surprised by this statement in the article quoted:
...' an elegant but costly technology in search of real world relevance beyond the initial application of digital cash exchange.'

I am deeply involved in the hi-tech healthcare sector in the UK. Blockchain is beginning to impact the sector. By chance, the CEO of a startup in Cambridge UK sent this information to me today:
"At ***** we are developing a platform for storing and sharing genomic data based on Blockchain technology. Our platform exploits the power of a distributed ledger enabling the secure storing of genomic data and also, thanks to a series of smart contracts, enables sharing of specific parts of a genome with doctors, family members and researchers around the world without compromising the entire genomic information and therefore respecting the privacy of the owner."

I gave a presentation last October at a Big Data in Healthcare conference in Luxembourg at which I made the case that the scale of data requirements in healthcare will exceed all other sectors. Security of that data will be essential and I believe blockchain may be an essential piece of the puzzle.


I posted a comment under your article about blockchain. In it I mentioned a presentation I gave in October 2015 at a conference on Big Data in Healthcare. It was about the best conference I ever attended. I have attached the slides I presented. If you want to share these with subscribers please feel free to do so. They make the case for the scale of healthcare data on-line being absolutely massive.  With the inevitable security implications, blockchain may become very important in the healthcare sector and startups here in the UK are beginning to focus on the opportunity as I mentioned in my comment.

Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for the  comment added to the article I posted on Friday as well as the above email and PowerPoint presentation you attached to the above email.

In order for blockchain to represent the kind of financial innovation required to truly represent a transformative effect on the financial sector I believe its link to bitcoin has to be completely unwound.

There is a very simple reason for this. Bitcoin was designed to ensure that the supply of the crypto currency is inhibited so that it is sharply differentiated from fiat currency. However in a sector like healthcare there is a requirement for exponential expansion of the blockchain and instantaneous counterparty verification. That represents a significant challenge to achieving ease of operation and fungability.

I am in full agreement that the requirement for data storage, security and access to healthcare data is likely to dwarf all other demand centres in the not too distant future so the challenges blockchain faces need to be resolved soon.

It was interesting that the talk on blockchain and how it related to healthcare was one of the least engaging of any I’ve seen so far at the ExMed conference; with the presenting team from Deloitte Consulting not seeming able to formulate a compelling reason for why the sector needs it. 

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