Blockchain’s Transformative Impact On Healthcare: Feature Interview With Author Mark van Rijmenam

Mark van Rijmenam, DataFloq
Mark van Rijmenam, DataFloq

The Internet. It all began as a grand vision for a democratized global network.

Today, it is increasingly controlled by a powerful group of centralized enterprises exerting enormous influence over the digital ecosystem.

Enter Blockchain, a catalyst for upending this prevailing model by providing a secure and efficient means for facilitating digital information in a decentralized manner. It’s here where this nascent technology shows promise in addressing a number of issues pertaining to healthcare.

Practical perspectives on blockchain in healthcare

In the book entitled Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World, authors Mark van Rijmenam and Philippa Ryan provide a set of perspectives on this emerging, highly talked about technology and its relevance to industries like healthcare. Replete with practical stories and examples, this book highlights the enormous upside of blockchain innovation in fueling a better world.

Here at Blockchain Healthcare Review, we asked co-author Mark van Rijmenam to provide us with his thoughts around the growing nexus between blockchain and healthcare innovation. A faculty member for the famed Blockchain Research Institute, van Rijmenam is an in-demand speaker, startup strategic advisor and thought leader on AI, Blockchain and Big Data.

What prompted you to co-author this book?

While doing research for my Ph.D., I found that there was a lack of knowledge available on how Blockchain could be used for social good. Most of the information pertaining to Blockchain focused on either Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or on how the financial services industry could value from distributed ledger technology. This seemed odd to me, especially in light of Goldman Sachs statement in 2015 that “Blockchain can change … well everything”. So my co-author Philippa Ryan and I decided to fill in this gap by investigating how Blockchain could be used to transform business while improving our world in a more broader way.

Along those same lines, can you provide us with an example of where this is playing out in the healthcare industry?

Sure. The move toward developing electronic health care records that are personal, persistent, private, protected and portable is just one example. An important part of the health delivery model involves the recording of key indicators around patient progress over time. Given the number of care practitioners often involved, a complete and reliable overview of a patient’s record often becomes quite complicated. It’s here where Blockchain solutions show promise in ensuring that healthcare records become immutable, verifiable and traceable.

And are there any blockchain enterprise related projects that stand out for you?

Yes, there are indeed a number of startups aiming to disrupt the healthcare system using blockchain. The biggest of these startups all revolve around healthcare records, as solving this issue could significantly change our healthcare system and save billions of dollars. Companies like Medicalchain, Clinico, and Patientory are the ones that appear to be generating the most traction.

What other some areas you are keeping an eye on in terms of blockchain adoption in healthcare?

Provider credentialing is another interesting one to watch. In short, documenting credentials and certificates on the blockchain may offer a key solution for preventing fraud by doctors who are not actually doctors.

Any others?

Patient consent management is still another area where blockchain offers promise.  It could deliver a new and more efficient way for relevant stakeholders to check and verify whether or not a patient has given consent to a certain treatment.

How do you believe blockchain can contribute to the identity management element of patient care?

Blockchain will empower patients and give them full control over their own healthcare records, which is non-existent today. We will move to a self-sovereign identity for patients, where the patients themselves determine who has access to what data and see which doctor or organization had access to their personal files.

Your final thoughts in terms of the future of blockchain in helping to deliver quality, cost-effective health care?

Yes, keep an eye on the movement afoot around self-sovereign identity for patients. Allowing truly anonymized patient data that can be used for research will significantly improve healthcare and reduce costs. I believe this is a very important area to watch as it could have major implications for the future of healthcare.