At the Second Geneva Annual Blockchain Conference, Healthcare Takes Center Stage

Starting the Davos Week over 1200 people attended the second Geneva Annual Blockchain Conference. On center stage discussing the Ethics of DLT Standards in Healthcare are from right to left: Heather Flannery (CEO, Consensys Health), Prof. Jean Pierre Hubaux (Director, C4DT, EPFL), Dele Atanda (Founder, the Internet Foundation, CEO MetaMe) and Dr. Alex Cahana (GenesisBlock)

At the Second Annual Geneva Blockchain Conference, Healthcare Takes Center Stage

more speakers, more attendees and much, much more healthcare and blockchain

Last year I summarized the first annual Geneva Blockchain conference with three promises for 2020: more women, more social impact and more healthcare. And indeed this year, with double the speakers, double the attendees and over 50 starts ups exhibiting their solutions, we had two days of panels (no more manels), ideations workshops and extensive discussions on ethics, policy and social impact.

An ideation workshop where Helen Disney (left), Mirko De Malde and Prof. Sanjeev Krishna (center) discuss with Deepti Atrish (fourth from left) how to improve her solution for remote elderly care

From these two days it looks like three main trends will shape this year.

Trend # 1: Digital Health is Patient-centric whereas Blockchain Health is patient-driven

As digital health attracted $7.4B last year (a slight decline from the record breaking $8.2B raised in 2018), healthcare and wellness investments have been mostly supporting solutions that increase health service consumption (drugs, tests, doctor visits). Even solutions that promote fitness, nutrition or sleep, do not provide direct or indirect financial benefits to their users.

Rock Health Digital Health Venture Funding Report (January 2020)

On the other hand healthcare solutions that use blockchain are designed through tokenization to offer monetary and non-monetary benefits to patients who are data creators. This provides not only immediate value and incentives for healthy behavior (Amchart, MedicalChain) but also protects us from data mining that might be manipulated via engagement algorithms to increase health consumption.

(I explain this briefly here and at length here)

5 Potential Blockchain Use-cases that can save the environment | Data Driven Investor

Trend #2: Blockchain Health solutions are deploying first in emerging markets

As I mentioned here, two early use cases of blockchain in healthcare are supply chain and clinical trials. Counterfeiting of drugs along with fake drugs in the supply chain constitutes a major loss of billions of dollars per year, and nearly half of clinical trials are unreported, 40% of healthcare provider data records riddled with errors and data breaches are estimated at $4B last year.

Thus not surprisingly supply chain solutions like Rymedi and clinical trial management solutions like Bloqcube and Molecule, have been first deployed in countries like Mongolia and India, as well as other solutions like SolveCare, Remelife and Poonyah.

Rymedi workflow in the Mongolia Hep C project (source)

Trend #3: Healthcare data is all about privacy, anonymity and self sovereignty

Data-driven products and services are often marketed with the potential to save users time and money or even lead to better health and well-being. Still, large shares of U.S. adults are not convinced they benefit from this system of widespread data gathering. Some 81% of the public say that the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, and 66% say the same about government data collection. Furthermore, 79% of the public is not confident that corporations or the government are good stewards of the data they collect.

It is time to rethink our health data privacy laws (Image source)

Therefore much effort is put into creating standards of privacy, anonymity and self sovereignty for health data. Whereas some laws address the longstanding interoperability challenges and the need for greater data flow, increased security, trust and accountability between health entities (like the Office of National Coordination TEFCA framework), others look at self sovereignty and clean data as a fundamental human right (like the Universal Declaration of Digital Rights by the Internet Foundation, recently endorsed by the British Standards Institute).

Final thoughts: We are valuable because our data is valuable

Contrary to 2019, this year’s conferences were less self-congratulatory and more focused on designing a sustainable, inclusive and fair healthcare marketplace. Beyond ethical standards and policies we recognized and discussed the need to create an ecosystem that transforms people from healthcare service consumers into health and wealth producers.

Hopefully 2020 will be the year that companies realize that beyond them searching for a product/market fit, community adoption and sufficient decentralization (i.e. community ownership), they will also recognize that health and wellness are bona fide economic activities.

As such, we will be able to mature from a competitive commodity (“stuff”) economy mentality into a true data economy of abundance and collaboration.

Well-being is the ultimate capital (Image source)

This will allow Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments to finally include Health and become an Environmental, Social, Governance and Health (ESGH) framework.

Many thanks to the two dozens speakers and organizers of the conference.

See you all next year!

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