Applications and Use Cases

Mount Sinai Opens Center to Study Blockchain in Healthcare

July 27, 2018

Investment in the global blockchain market is expected to climb steadily and significantly over the next several years, topping the $12 billion mark by 2020.  Many see blockchain as a game changer poised to impact every business sector, led by the financial industry, which is already seeing significant investment and is set to lead development for the foreseeable future.  But, many other industries are working to understand how they can leverage blockchain technology.  Healthcare is a logical industry, given the rising costs of healthcare combined with a shortage of physicians and a need for increased accuracy and security of health records.

Several companies are already exploring the potential of blockchain in healthcare.  Now, that list includes Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, which, along with the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare, formally opened the Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research.  Its goal is to research and develop uses of distributed ledger technology that can help solve problems in healthcare.  The Center will be led by Joel Dudley, PhD, executive vice president of Precision Health at Mount Sinai. 

“There is a lot of excitement around the possibilities for blockchain technology in health care,” says Dudley, whose additional roles include Mount Sinai Endowed Chair in Biomedical Data Science, Associate Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, and Director of the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare.  “However, we still have lots of hard work ahead to identify the most salient features of blockchain technologies to solve real-world health care problems.”

The Center hopes to build a base for a future industry partnership program that will enable companies looking at blockchain-based medical solutions to collaborate to create more effective solutions more efficiently.  Current efforts will include:

  • Conducting scholarly evaluations of blockchain-enabled solutions;
  • Providing partnership and consulting opportunities with companies working on these projects;
  • Building and testing its own systems within the Mount Sinai Health System.

Many of the early uses cases are likely to evolve from current shortcomings in systems, including the lack of information flow that creates a lack of available care for many patient groups.  Blockchain can help solve the challenge by delivering a more unified healthcare ecosystem and driving collaboration and interoperability to enable equal access to quality care across the board.

“There is an opportunity to reimagine how we organize and incentivize individuals and organizations to promote health,” says Noah Zimmerman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Director of the Health Data and Design Innovation Center.  Zimmerman will be working alongside Dr. Dudley to drive the work of the Center.  “Our aim is to understand whether blockchain, and associated technologies, can be used to solve open problems in health care and biomedical research.”

Edited by Erik Linask



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