The medical blockchain big data platform, MediChain (https://medichain.online), is setting out on a big mission: to reduce suffering and premature death on the same sort of scale as previous medical breakthroughs such as the discovery of antibiotics, vaccination, the link between clean drinking water and health, or the introduction of randomized controlled trials of treatments.
Over time the above breakthroughs have saved billions of people form suffering and premature death. MediChain wants to bring equivalent leaps forward in progress against the diseases that still defeat medical science.
Some of the previous jumps resulted from one person’s observation of a phenomenon they could see for themselves – e.g. Dr Jenner’s famous observation of milk maids’ protection against small pox, which led to today’s vaccination programs – and these were perhaps the low hanging fruit. To go further, we need a bigger, more sophisticated approach, though the principle is the same – spot patterns and links, then investigate further for reliable findings.
The MediChain approach is to bring together the huge and growing mass of patient data, to form big data that will allow sophisticated analyses and machine learning to find patterns and trends that can’t currently be seen. Information such as doctor’s notes, test results, hospital scans and more is currently dispersed, but even once brought together it would take a hundred scientists a thousand years to go through it, non-stop, without even collating and comparing. But applying artificial intelligence to this mass of information can pick out links for human scientists to investigate.
If the plan seems ambitious, it is, but MediChain’s CEO, Dr Mark Baker, knows his stuff. He has twenty-five years’ experience in medical big data, including work at Oxford University, Cancer Research, Cambridge University, as CTO at Europe’s largest predictive analytics business, and at Janssen Pharmaceutical where his big data work helped launch the anti-psychotic drug Risperidone, which made the company £42M. He’s also bringing strength to MediChain in the form of partnerships, such as with leading AI and machine learning provider, Wolfram, and with networks of hospitals and health records companies such as Cerner. The approach of partnering with incumbents in the patient data market, rather than competing with them, allows MediChain to reach patients en masse.
On top of that, early pilot projects are already showing promise. Using the MediChain MVP to bring together patient data in Australian pain clinics has already resulted in the discovery of a low cost intervention for back pain, and next the company will be applying machine learning to CT scan data to improve diagnosis and management of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhages, where the death rate is currently around 50%.
Another aspect of MediChain is that patients will have access to and control over their own data. This not only allows them to contribute anonymised information for research, but also to make their records available to the doctors and specialists that treat them. Medical errors, including misdiagnosis, are responsible for an alarming number of deaths (e.g. thought to be almost 10% of deaths in the USA), and wherever doctors do not have full access to patients’ records at the time they need it, this puts the patient at risk from the uninformed decisions the doctors have to make. So MediChain also aims to make a big impact on reducing these errors to improve survival rates and quality of life, through facilitating correct diagnosis and treatment.
Patients and doctors will be able to use the MediChain data service for free, with data stored securely and in compliance with local regulations, and made available as the patient wishes using MediChain’s blockchain technology. This use will be funded from other sources: the company has been holding token sales to raise funds for the early stages of its work – these are about to close, so you’ll have to be quick if you want a piece of the action – and later the sales of anonymised data to pharmaceutical companies, tapping into the $157Bn treatment development market, is expected not just to pay for these services to patients and doctors, but also to be highly profitable for MediChain and its token holders.
Interestingly, MediChain tokens actually represent the data in the system, and since there is a fixed number of tokens, the more data added, the greater the value of each token. And since big data is more valuable than the sum of its parts, that should be good news for token holders as well as for medicine.