Bagels & Blockchain: How Blockchain is Being Used in the Fight Against COVID-19
May 04, 2020
By Eugene Tetlow
Blockchain technologies have become increasingly popular over the last several years and the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced their prominence. On April 23, Paige Krieger, Digital Engagement Program Manager - Blockchain Platform, IBM, joined Dara Albright, Advisor, EisnerAmper, for the latest in the Bagels & Blockchain series. The webinar focused on how blockchain technology is being leveraged in the fight against COVID-19.
Below are some of the key highlights from the discussion:
A Single Point of Truth
The traceability aspect of blockchain offers many compelling use cases, particularly amidst a crisis like COVID-19; specifically in this instance, the ability to have a single point of truth to track donations, medications, and most importantly, medical supplies. COVID-19 is generating a huge number of data points and helping us meet one of the fundamental needs right now: the ability to trust and be able to share and distribute the data. Whether working at a hospital, acting as a first responder, or working for a government entity or a supplier looking to distribute goods, being able to have a single reference point that organizes and quantifies the relevant data not only improves efficiency, but in the COVID-19 environment, it can translate to saving lives.
As the world emerges from the current conditions, blockchain technology is expected to take a larger role in the day-to-day health care industry, via the concept of a patient passport. Taking COVID-19 as an example, through a digital passport system, trigger notifications could be emitted if an individual entered an area with an increased concentration of infected patients, for instance. A patient passport would offer other tangible benefits such as a profound reduction in paperwork, the ability to notify first responders of pre-existing conditions, an increased efficiency of analyzing data, and perhaps even potential monetary awards for the sharing of individual data.
Fight Against Counterfeit Medicine
Now more than ever, it is important for patients to have absolute confidence in the authenticity of the medicines/vaccines they are receiving. Blockchain technology can help with this by tracking the medicine from source to consumer giving the patient the confidence that the medicine/vaccine in their possession has not expired and is not counterfeit.
Utilizing Blockchain to Help Bring About a Vaccine
Going back to the single point of truth concept, blockchain technology can be the central point where institutions can share data, test results, concepts and ideas. Instead of a disconnected siloed environment with several authorities and organizations working independently to create a vaccine, blockchain technology can be a central point that brings together greater efficiencies and better sharing of critical information on the road to a vaccine discovery.
How to Get Involved
This year’s IBM Think conference will be happening digitally from May 5 through May 7. One of the projects that is relatively new and is being expedited is Rapid Supplier Connect. This is being offered at no cost for the first 120 days. It allows suppliers to adopt the blockchain and improve the speeds in which their goods are transported. Another project that developers can contribute data to is MiPasa. MiPasa is a large data hub that aggregates, validates and then shares data from a large group of contributors. That data is then shared so that applications can be built on top of it to help combat COVID-19.
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