Public Healthcare Blockchains and Distributed Networks in 2018

2017 will be remembered as the year of the coming out party for blockchains and directed graphs in healthcare.

What was evident after speaking to a multitude of healthcare investors, startup entrepreneurs, and industry stakeholders is most folks lack a core understanding of:

  • what distributed systems can and cannot do today
  • technological maturation
  • cost of operations
  • economic security guarantees
  • economic planning
  • socio-economic foundation

The open ‘network of value’ movement is about change on a global scale. A transition from a centralized to an open, collective mindset is underway.

Building or investing in “local” healthcare ecosystems or ‘permissioned networks’ among trading partners is a fine exercise and perhaps will get you a quick promotion to IT manager or venture partner. Caveat emptor, however, as value-at-risk will be greatest in such “private” networks without open, economic guarantees married at the atomic protocol level such as what is found in open blockchain networks today.

Private, permissioned network developer solutions must be carefully vetted and compared with cryptographically secured cloud solutions versus open, decentralized solutions in their current and future state.

Directed acrylic graph networks or DAGs, the distributed network de jour, currently suffers from the lack of critical mass of nodes which makes these networks inherently insecure and consequently requires a trusted centralized actor to make sufficiently secure. Until such networks reach escape velocity, one should tread very carefully.

The real potential benefits that will be realized from blockchain and distributed system proof-of-concept exercises will be non-technical; the realization that a change of mindset, not implementing a shiny new techno-toy, is the requisite change for successful adoption of this new paradigm of computing.

We believe that monumental change in healthcare at a national scale, the likes of which we have not seen before, is possible. To change the US healthcare ecosystem, a radical shift from an “I” to a collective and sharing mentality is required. We need to cease exerting power through control of resources and creating scarcity where there could be abundance. The alignment of profit and purpose can now be realized with decentralized open networks. Through them, bad actors are eliminated, and participants are incentivized and behavior aligned utilizing cryptoeconomics, reputation, and commerce tokens.

The promise of decentralization in healthcare is a heavy lift and certainly will not be solved by one random startup that has written one white paper in six months, looking for a quick cash grab to fund their fledgling healthcare product. None of the recent healthcare ICO white papers we’ve read (over 20) address key seminal issues at the network protocol or capability layer nor other challenges existing networks face today. They are purely applications seeking to piggy back on unproven networks. Scalability, confidentiality, interoperability, centralization, identity, security guarantees and other fundamental capabilities are in varying stage of research and development, conceptually and technically.

The opportunity to align profit and social good, eliminate malicious, colluding or non-compliant actors, and to disintermediate no-value-add participants has never been greater than today with decentralized networks as the underlying infrastructure. We have observed early startup entrants who have placed the cart before the horse and consequently have suffered at the hands of savvy blockchain and crypto asset investors who have demurred their token offerings. The underpinnings need to be built before the applications.

Time could be well spent by healthcare executives and investors in 2018 learning and testing the various open solutions emerging in the market today versus closed, permissioned, or hybrid solutions. We are in the early days of blockchain and there will be many winners and losers. We expect to see new and interesting open networks emerge that will solve many of the problems that exist with public networks today. Observe how networks are being adopted outside of the United States in Asia, Central Europe, and Africa. These are areas of the world where we believe some early and successful open source healthcare networks will emerge.

To this end, HealthCombix has developed a half day, hands-on presentation and consultation for businesses and decision-makers seeking information on how and why open source distributed networks, self-sovereignty, and collaboration can change healthcare for the good of all. We will share our experience researching and developing blockchain and distributed system products and our thoughts on emerging healthcare networks in the US and around the globe.

Topics of interest to be included are:

  • The Promise of Decentralization in Healthcare
  • Consumer Responsibility, Self-Sovereignty, and the Demise of HIPAA
  • Healthcare ICOs and Why They Have Been Unsuccessful to Date
  • Building Scalable and Interoperable Healthcare Distributed Networks
  • Consensus Controlled and Platform Driven Decentralized Healthcare Economies
  • Economic Incentives and Blockchain Security in Healthcare
  • Smart Contracts, IoT, and Healthcare Insurance Convergence
  • Digital Identity in Healthcare
  • Network Evaluations (ETH, QTUM, IOTA, HCX, MEDI, etc.)

For more information about this program, please send a note to disrupt@healthcombix.com.

Cyrus Maaghul is a serial entrepreneur currently applying cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to the healthcare industry as founder of HealthCombix.com and PointNurse.com. His experience as a technology entrepreneur and working inside world class organizations like Fidelity Investments and Deloitte give him a unique perspective to advise, develop strategy, and build open value networks.

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