Late breaking: Dawn Barry leaves Illumina to lead LunaDNA -Blockchain Disrupting Healthcare Industry

Every individual holds a valuable piece of the puzzle to understand disease and health, and researchers are all in need of more data. Discovery is hindered by putting the majority of data into small silos. Breaking down data silos and bringing individuals together will more quickly aggregate enough samples to rise above the complexity of genomics and identify disease candidates.”

Dawn Barry, President and Co-Founder, LunaDNA

Bitcoin was hatched as an act of defiance and unleashed in the wake of the Great Recession to replace the services provided by financial institutions with cryptography and code. When you use a check to pay your mortgage a series of agreements occur in the background between financial institutions enabling money to go from your account to the lender’s. Your bank can vouch for your money because tracks where every penny in your account came from, and when.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies replace those background agreements and transactions with software—specifically, a distributed and secure database called a blockchain. The process by which ownership of a Bitcoin token passes from one person to another—wherever they are, no matter the rules of the government under which they live—is entrusted to a bunch of computers.

Now, eight years after the first blockchain was developed, people are asking, ‘What other agreements can a blockchain automate?’ ‘What other middlemen can blockchain technology eliminate?’ Electronic Medical Records (EMR), the pharmaceutical supply chain, and smart contracts for payment distribution are just a few of the applications that blockchain technology is rapidly disrupting in the healthcare industry.

The healthcare industry today is drowning in data. Data is everywhere and increasingly influencing and ultimately defining the future of our healthcare system. With genome sequencing we are accumulating large amounts of genomic data that is organized in small silos and only identifiable and accessible to defined small groups of researchers and clinicians. Some of this is understandably driven by the uncertainties and worries of data security and privacy. We lack a common database platform for the research and clinical communities and stakeholders, including providers, doctors, and payors, around which to organize.  Every participant is relevant, including the individuals who provide access to their biological and lifestyle data. Sharing this knowledge securely and privately while facilitating development of new therapies and protocols has long been the goal. This is where blockchain has the potential to move us in the right direction!

Blockchain: A distributed system that logs transaction records on linked blocks and stores them on an encrypted digital ledger. Since records are spread across a network of replicated, synced databases, no central administrator is part of the process. Users can only update the block they have access to, which updates the entire network in real time. All entries are time and date stamped.

Blockchain can remove the problems of unclear data ownership, improving data integrity and peer-to-peer accountability. Patient consent can be accurately captured using tailored consent provisions. Since they are recorded in an immutable fashion, healthcare professionals can have complete trust in it. Blockchain has already made its way into the healthcare industry. A recent IMB study found that 16% of surveyed healthcare executives had solid plans to implement a commercial blockchain solution this year, while 56% expected to do so by 2020.

The potential of blockchain in healthcare includes:

  • One-stop access and optimized medical data management
  • Facilitated drug development
  • Improved claims and billing management
  • Facilitated medical research
  • Improved data security

We had a chance to interview Dawn Barry, President and co-Founder of LunaDNA and a speaker at next week’s PMWC 2018 Silicon Valley conference, to discuss some of the exciting developments in this area and how blockchain will disrupt the healthcare industry.

Blockchain’s emergence creates a low-friction way to incentivize and deliver value for data sharing and it also allows for private, decentralized ownership in a manner that community members can trust.”

Dawn Barry, President and Co-Founder, LunaDNA

Read Dawn Barry’s full interview on our blog.