Blockchain in One Health: Is there a match?

  • Posted by: Muhammad Ali Ishaq

The term ‘Blockchain’ has taken the tech industry by storm in the last few years. Every industry is impressed by the benefits blockchain technology offers and are utilising it in their operations. Health is no different, and there is potential for the use of blockchain in animal health.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger (a distributed database), that digitally records data in blocks, connected to a chain of blocks, spread out over a network rather than a single location for the database. Any data stored is continuously reconciled across the network. Being distributed offers increased security and data validity; there’s no single point of failure or a single party with total access to the data.

Blockchain is already being utilised in the healthcare industry, but it is still in its early stages of adoption. For the first time, Blockchain could help the preservation of longitudinal health records of an individual, from birth to old age, reducing health assessment errors and allowing medical practitioners to offer improved care quality. However, there are barriers too: locked-in systems and resistance to sharing health data.

So where does blockchain fit in one health? One of the major problems counterfeit pharmaceuticals. According to the World Health Organization:

Up to $200 billion worth of counterfeit pharmaceutical products are sold globally every year.

Could blockchain solve such problems? We think so.

We’re currently working on Batch Block, a startup that focuses on fighting drug counterfeiting and improving drug traceability.

With the use of blockchain, Batch Block can improve drug traceability, track parties interacting with the supply chain, and alert labs of any counterfeit drugs. Blockchain powered supply chain tools can offer various benefits to all parties involved in the supply chain.

Batch Block looks at the following key areas of innovation:

Supply Chain Product Certification

Blockchain can be utilised to power supply chain of pharmaceuticals or other similar products. The distributed ledger can hold key properties of the product like quality, quantity and custody in a secure infrastructure, making it accessible to any party performing a quality check. Such assessments would allow relevant parties to establish the credibility and genuineness of a shipment; recognising any counterfeits before someone uses them.

Supply Chain Smart Contracts

Blockchain can also reduce countless hours of research by securely holding onto important information about a product, like documentation, patent, registration, or inspection certificates. With smart contracts, veterinarians or other medical practitioners can digitally record and sign recurring shipments or orders, eliminating the need for it to go through approvals. With real-time monitoring of orders or equipment and secure storage of financial transaction can reduce the time spent on documentation reviews and research.

Tracking and Traceability

Blockchain’s verifiable and decentralised nature can allow manufacturers and retailers to track the origin and destination of any product, along with any intermediary points in the chain. The ability to see which parties interacted with a shipment or product and when can provide reassurance to customers and manufacturers about the genuineness of the product and reduce any opportunities for counterfeit products to join the supply chain.

Industrial Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) is a powerhouse of big data, generating large data on almost every aspect of operations. This data is sensitive and requires secure storage with controlled access and permissions. This makes it a great use-case for blockchain which add a layer of security, determine roles and permissions and provide secure peer-to-peer messaging for an industrial IoT network.

The healthcare industry has already made use of Blockchain. A few examples include companies that are, powered by blockchain, registering every update and access to healthcare records, revolutionising relationships between medical researchers and users and building a private label marketplace for healthcare. vHive plans on entering this space to use blockchain and prevent drug counterfeiting.

Prof Alex Cook, Head of vHive and Head of Veterinary Epidemiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey, will be speaking more about Batch Block and vHive’s plans at the 5th International OneHealth Congress taking place between 22-25 June in Saskatoon, Canada. Follow us on Twitter to stay updated.

Muhammad Ali Ishaq
Author: Muhammad Ali Ishaq
Ali has almost a decade of experience in building websites and digital marketing. Very enthusiastic about tech, he is an entrepreneur and an amateur photographer.