Blockchain Presents Major Promise for Bogged Down Medical Research

The promise of blockchain technology has seemingly been scrutinized from every angle since the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto published Bitcoin’s white paper and introduced the world to its underlying tech more than 10 years ago.

Its potential is especially apparent in the field of medical research. According to Sean T. Manion and Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy, the authors of the new book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare”, it takes 17 years on average to bring new medical treatment ideas into evidence-based clinical practice. Manion and Bizouati-Kennedy believe blockchain can improve science and accelerate medical research while bringing a new layer of trust to healthcare.

From left to right: Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare, Sean T. Manion, Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy. Photos: Katie Manion

A blockchain is basically a database that is shared across a network of computers. The network constantly checks to ensure all the copies of the database are identical, making the records immutable.

Blockchain is already being used in the healthcare industry for different purposes, with the ultimate goal being to manage trial data and medical records while maintaining personal privacy and regulatory compliance.

One such example is the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), a pilot for which was completed in December 2019, by international accounting firm KPMG LLP, German pharmaceutical and technology company Merck KGaA, Walmart, and IBM, as part of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) project. “The pilot’s findings demonstrate that leveraging blockchain technology can significantly reduce the time needed to trace a prescription drug—from up to 16 weeks to two seconds,” IBM said in a press release at the time.

Manion, the chief scientific officer at ConsenSys Health, the healthcare arm of Brooklyn-based blockchain technology company ConsenSys Inc., and Bizouati-Kennedy, a freelance…

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