The ‘health’ economy is sick: this is how tech can help us fix it



If you have a spare weekend and want some spicy reading, go through some of the published and detailed reports of complaints, filed with the FDA, which relate to cases of mishandling, negligence, and evident protocol breach during the Covid-19 clinical trials of one known pharma conglomerate in the USA. Spoiler alert: it is frightening.

I invite you to resist the temptation of despair and recommend that you double click on what could be a clear example of where blockchain can revolutionize the health business, for good. 

Speeding it

The Covid-19 crisis required a strong, and especially fast, response. We, as a global community, had to find a vaccine asap. This was the mantra of politicians, big pharma, health professionals and businesses. Our world needed to get back to normal. We decided to stretch thin. 

Public pressure forced research organizations to move aggressively and ‘break things’ (to use the business jargon). This resulted in some – with the exact magnitude to be quantified – cases of inaccuracy in data registration and violations of patients’ privacy. 

This piece is not about investigating into what happened, but it’s about tech. Technologies like Blockchain can help, with fast, secure, and scalable registration of massive amount of data, instantly made available to the public for analysis, research, and action. 

The Covid-19 crisis showed us, very clearly, that when it comes to the public good (think of health, education, and finance), we need to automate and protect at scale every transaction and record belonging to every individual. 

We went as far as making vaccination mandatory: there is no exercise of power without accountability. On one side, we have the obligation to intervene and limit the risk of contagion and massive deaths. And, we have the right to access the full stream of data and facts (properly anonymized) that drove that decision. This is what Blockchain is for. 

We desperately need speed, but must compromise on accuracy, due to bandwidth issues with our health and surveillance systems? This is no longer acceptable. Blockchain is fast and secure at the same time.   

Faking it

The most disillusioned readers may think that a bigger agenda – fixing the Covid-19 drama was a sure re-election ticket for governments and the winning lottery ticket for big pharma – forced multiple actors on the research side to look the other way and make sure timelines were met on time and in full. This is the ultimate question: what if someone, during those intense war days, faked the results of some – even if it is a small portion – clinical trials? Just hold that thought for a second. Again, our role here is not to write up a full investigation into this matter. 

A full, transparent, immutable record of every single data point of a delicate research project like the Covid-19 corpus of trials is a necessary tool, to hold all actors accountable for what they do. In case of legal proceedings, this would be the minimum viable data (MVD) that accompanies the creation of a vaccine, which could save us, or kill some of us. Blockchain is exactly the tech stack to power that MVD. It’s like having the black box for a plane ride. Nothing wrong is meant to happen and accidents are extremely rare these days, but just in case.  

What’s my point here? We need to force decisions, in some cases, for a broader good – which is a totally legitimate political decision – some would say? It is ok with me, if we have a full record of what happened; a record that cannot be massaged ad hoc by pharma, public institutions, or a few bad actors. Blockchain can help, to keep all actors honest and accountable. 

An example of real-life applications of Blockchain being applied to MedTech is Circular, a new and revolutionary Layer 1 protocol, which was created exactly to help revolutionize health and MedTech. We, as humans, are not perfect and obviously have a bias for action, when in danger. It is in our nature. When it comes to act during a massive pandemic, we owe it to ourselves to be fast and driven, while being accurate, respectful of everyone’s privacy and transparent, top down and bottom up. How can we keep momentum and keep track of what we do? We just need Blockchain, for speed, safety, and accuracy. For the first time in history, we can fix health, without the risks of speeding and faking it. Blockchain is the cure, the check and the balance.