Blockchain and AI Underlie New Medical Data-Sharing Systems


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With a focus on research and product development, Dr. Sanjiv M. Narayan’s areas of interest include signal processing, medical device technology, wearable devices and machine learning. Dr. Sanjiv M. Narayan founded a startup which was acquired by sale to Abbott Laboratories and presently serves as a professor of medicine at Stanford University.

Several studies from many groups are beginning to speak to machine learning in biometric signals. A recent article in Nature brought attention to the new use of the same blockchain technology that underlies the cryptocurrency Bitcoin for sharing medical data. Employing artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, patients can share medical data in simple, secure, and user-friendly ways.

A system created at the University of California, San Francisco, was designed to collect the data from three to five million mammograms in this way and utilize it to train an AI algorithm in the detection of cancer. Blockchain is ideal because it is by design decentralized, anonymous, and secure, and it provides an unparalleled level of data-identity control.

Another blockchain-based project at Harvard University is creating a health-records-sharing system called MedRec, which will sync data from Fitbits and other wearable electronic devices. The massive quantities of data collected and analyzed, with patient permission, should enable optimal treatments to be developed.