IMI blockchain project PharmaLedger has selected specific use cases relating to the supply chain, health data and clinical trials to try out the implementation of blockchain technologies in healthcare.
In blockchain technology, data is distributed, meaning it is stored across multiple servers. It is also immutable; this means data records (or ‘blocks’) cannot be changed or tampered with. Each new ‘block’ of data is connected to the previous one, creating the ‘blockchain’. The blocks are connected by cryptography, making the system secure. Blockchain’s most famous application is the bitcoin currency.
The goal of IMI’s PharmaLedger project is to deliver an open source, blockchain-based platform for the healthcare sector, using the supply chain, clinical trials, and health data as case studies.
To validate the blockchain platform architecture, the project has selected eight use cases within these three areas. Some of the highlights are described below.
In the supply chain area, one of PharmaLedger’s selected use cases will help to boost trust in medicines. A patient could simply scan a data matrix (QR) code on a packet of medicine to obtain (via a mobile app or website) a blockchain-anchored ‘eLeaflet’ on the medicine inside. The blockchain technology would guarantee the reliability of the information, and the solution could also be used to implement an anti-counterfeit feature where the user would be able to check product authenticity. Looking to the future, the eLeaflet could also be used to provide updates on the medicine, manage recalls, and offer advice on the safe (environmentally friendly) disposal of the drug.
In the health data field, PharmaLedger has selected a use case that will make it easier to match up patients with clinical trials (all while preserving patient privacy). In the clinical trials field, a use case on medical devices will integrate device data (‘Internet of Things’) with advanced analytics. This will support remote data capture during clinical trials, cutting down on the number of times patients would need to visit the clinic for tests.
In the health data and clinical trials fields, the project will also work on a use case that will strengthen patients’ ownership of their data, giving them greater control over who can access their health data and when, with a view to enabling a health data marketplace.
‘For blockchain to achieve its potential in helping our society become digitally trustworthy, mass adoption and true horizontal innovation needs to take place,’ says Clarisse Dias da Mota, Blockchain Business Analyst at Novartis. ‘PharmaLedger contributes to that by proposing and developing both, use case specific solutions and an overarching open source platform.’
PharmaLedger plans to open up the platform for external parties to connect their own use case solutions. The platform will work in a similar way to an app store which requires a minimum standard of compliance but which is open and flexible to the needs of different use cases.
Learn about the blockchain thanks to PharmaLedger’s short video explainer