Today, Hyperledger is announcing the formation of the Hyperledger Healthcare Working Group (HLHC Working Group). Health data sharing, like much of health IT, has traditionally lagged other industries in adoption of new technologies. This is not for bad reason – people’s lives and health privacy are at stake, as is 20% of GDP. The potential of Blockchain technology, applied to healthcare, is a shared platform that decentralizes health data without compromising the security of sensitive information. This model lifts the costly burden of maintaining patient’s medical histories away from the hospitals: eventually cost savings will make it full cycle back to the patient receiving care.
The HLHC Working Group’s mission is to house and foster technical and business-level conversations about appropriate applications for Blockchain technology in the healthcare industry. These conversations will be broad and educational, but will eventually focus on identifying opportunities for near-term collaboration between participants on common software to implement a given application. If appropriately scoped and resourced, these conversations could lead to one or more proposals for new software development efforts to be hosted at Hyperledger.
“There are two really important questions to focus on. First, since there are so many use cases where Blockchain could be used in healthcare, where will Blockchain (plus smart contracts) provide capabilities not readily enabled by pre-existing approaches? Second, as Blockchain capabilities and variants continue to evolve rapidly, how do we support parallel initiatives that don’t create forking that introduces friction into the flow of data and services?” said Dr. John Mattison, Assistant Medical Director, Kaiser Permanente. “We are truly sitting on a ‘TCP/IP moment’, and while it’s impossible to declare ‘what’ the solution is to avoiding that forking, we can come together in this workgroup to define ‘how’ we collaborate to minimize the risks of inadvertently introducing friction through forking.”
The HLHC Working Group, which does not require Hyperledger membership, will center around discovery and exploration of healthcare-related Blockchain use cases that address real world problems. Initially, the group will focus on fundamental Distributed Ledger applications, such as establishing registries, interoperability and identities. Technical opportunities will also be discussed. In time, the discussion will expand to more advanced topics, such as smart contracts and process automation.
“The power of Open Source is the power of collaborative ideas. The Hyperledger Healthcare Working Group enables Healthcare enterprises, providers and users to focus resources on a scalable open source project to leverage collaboration, said Dr. Merve Unuvar, IBM Blockchain Product Leader. “The beating heart of the emerging Healthcare Blockchain will be powered by Hyperledger enabling data sharing, privacy and interoperability.”
“The healthcare industry needs to be organized in order to realize the potential for Blockchain technology,” said John Bass, Founder and CEO, Hashed Health. “The Hyperledger Healthcare Working Group is a destination for those who want to contribute to the development of technical standards necessary for Blockchain innovation to be meaningful. The team at Hashed Health is extremely excited to join the Group as a founding member driving development efforts with our peers.”
The HLHC Working Group already includes participants from organizations including Accenture, Gem, Hashed Health, Kaiser Permanente and IBM. If you are interested in participating in the HLHC Working Group, please email Greg Wallace at gwallace (at) linuxfoundation (dot) org.