IBM Watson Health, FDA Launch 2-Year Study to Explore Blockchain for Secure Patient Data Exchange

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IBM Watson Health has signed a 2-year research initiative with the FDA to leverage blockchain technology to define a secure, efficient, and scalable exchange of patient data. As part of the two-year agreement, IBM and the FDA will explore the exchange of owner mediated data from several sources, such as EMRs, clinical trials, genomic data, and health data from mobile devices, wearables and the “Internet of Things.” The initial focus will be on oncology-related data with plans to share initial research findings in 2017. 

A recent IBM Institute for Business Value paper ‘Healthcare rallies for blockchains1, based on a survey of about 200 healthcare executives, found that more than seven in ten industry leaders anticipate the highest benefits of blockchain in healthcare to accrue to managing clinical trial records, regulatory compliance and medical/health records.

Together, IBM and the FDA will explore how a blockchain framework can potentially provide benefits to public health by supporting important use cases for information exchange across a wide variety of data types, including clinical trials and “real world” evidence data. The goal is to find new insights combining data across the healthcare ecosystem that can potentially lead to new biomedical discoveries. For example, Patient data from wearables and connected devices can help doctors and caregivers better manage population health.  

“The healthcare industry is undergoing significant changes due to the vast amounts of disparate data being generated. Blockchain technology provides a highly secure, decentralized framework for data sharing that will accelerate innovation throughout the industry,” said Shahram Ebadollahi, Vice President for Innovations and Chief Science Officer, IBM Watson Health in a statement.