IBM Watson, FDA aim to tackle, tame blockchain for data exchange

Dive Brief:

  • IBM Watson and the FDA have partnered to define "a secure, efficient and scalable exchange of health data using blockchain technology."
  • The organizations will explore the exchange of owner-mediated data from several sources, such as EHRs, clinical trials, genomic data, and health data from mobile devices and wearables. 
  • The initial focus will be on oncology-related data, marking another oncology-related partnership with Illumina announced this week aimed at expanding access to precision oncology treatments

Dive Insight:

Blockchain is but one of the emerging technologies PricewaterhouseCoopers stated healthcare administrators should begin to become familiar with this year. In 2017, it's time for healthcare administrators and managers to learn and strategize how their organization could utilize blockchain and other emerging technologies, Trine Tsouderos, PwC's Health Research Institute director, told Healthcare Dive.

"Blockchain technology has advanced and has matured," Shahram Ebadollahi, Vice President for Innovations and Chief Science Officer, IBM Watson, told Healthcare Dive via email, adding, "At the core this technology can address various frictions in the health system, such as meaningful collaboration and coordination in healthcare that require addressing privacy concerns, lack of interoperability, and the issue of trustworthiness of data."

IBM and the FDA will explore how a blockchain framework can potentially provide benefits to public health by supporting use cases for information exchange across a wide variety of data types, including clinical trials and "real world" evidence data. 

Blockchain was certainly a buzzy word in 2016 and it looks like some companies are taking that momentum to explore its possibilities for all spectrums of the industry. "For providers it can provide the continuity of the health record and the longitudinal 360 view of the patient that the providers need in order to provide the health services to the patient," Ebadollahi stated. 

Ebadollahi also shared that cognitive technologies and use of advanced analytics for aiding in outcome- or value-based care settings is technology "at the point of maturity and scalability that could positively impact the healthcare providers."

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