In her own words
I have two decades of international management and industry experience in digital health, software and services. I am a regular speaker at conferences on blockchain. I am also the co founder of a healthtech startup and sits on a number of global non-profit organizations. Most of them are blockchain oriented with a focus on digital health and professional development. This does include Healthetia Europe and GITA Foundation namely. Being described as driven it turns out that I speak five languages and hold degrees and executive education from the Nanyang Business School in Singapore, INSEAD and Wharton.
TCM: Would you mind defining what is Blockchain for those of us who are not familiar with the concept?
Elizabeth: A blockchain is a chain of blocks that contains information. It is a type of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) that functions like a digital ledger, keeping track of literally anything of value. It is an evolving technology that combines existing technologies such as Cryptographic encryption, Distributed computing, Hashing, Game Theory and Consensus Building.
The technology itself is actually not new. It was originally described in 1991 by a group of researchers to timestamp digital documents so as to make it not possible to backdate or tamper with them like a notary. The technique went largely unused and was later adapted by a group pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 to create a digital cryptocurrency bitcoin.
TCM: What is the compelling argument for blockchain in healthcare?
Elizabeth: Oh, there are plenty….
The Healthcare industry has a variety of challenges stemming from data and information exchange issues. Blockchain has the potential to resolve some of these challenges, through its capability to drive data sharing between organizations without requiring trust. It is immutable and transparent; it resolves the double spending problem in digital payment systems and it uses cryptocurrencies or tokens as a participation incentive in the ecosystem.
This facilitates traceability in supply chain management such as counterfeit drugs and tracking of medical devices. It enables fraud detection and prevention across Insurance, Medtech and Pharma companies. It also supports demand & process optimization in healthcare organizations and adherence & compliance support for patient treatments.
Value-based care which I am passionate about, is pretty much tied to driving outcomes-based reimbursements. Through the interaction of the blockchain, stakeholder incentives across the Healthcare ecosystem can be aligned to drive pay-for-performance models and mitigate risks.
Last but not least, while blockchain will not resolve the long standing problem of interoperability, it has the potential to circumvent part of it, thanks to its decentralization and distributed nature. Researchers could use blockchain to recruit real world evidence (RWE) data for clinical trials and survey for unmet needs and population health.
TCM: When looking back at the last 12 months what are the achievements you would like to pinpoint?
Elizabeth: The Startup I cofounded had been named top 100 startups contributing to the Insurtech industry by Digital Insurance Agenda for 2018 and is still surviving in the bear market. We also launched the Android version of our app in December 2018. I was a founding member of Global ICO Transparency Alliance (GITA) Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting self-regulatory principles in the Blockchain industry. I have helped generated a lot of awareness through my educational speeches to various healthcare communities, government statutory boards and blockchain conferences in APAC and in Europe.
TCM: If i say blockchain has an image problem? What do you say?
Elizabeth: Indeed, many still have the notion that blockchain equates to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, which we know is not true. Bitcoin technology is only one of the many protocols in the umbrella of blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies. While there is still a lot of work to do in educating the industry as well as the general public, we have seen numerous initiatives and tremendous progress since 2018. The engagement amongst the blockchain industry, regulators and general public has been overwhelming and it is still growing globally.
TCM: What is the question you would have liked me to ask you and why?
Elizabeth: It would have been how blockchain could drive financial inclusion and access to basic health care. This is because, half the world’s population i.e. 3.8 billion people still lack access to basic Healthcare according to the WHO. This is appalling given we are in 2019 and access to Healthcare is a basic human right. I firmly believe that Blockchain has the capability to democratize data ownership ensuring true consent from patients and individuals, drive financial inclusion via proactive digitization and monetization of their health data, thus giving them the ability to access basic healthcare. It is certainly a much fairer way of doing data versus the current siloes and data monopolies we see in the Healthcare industry.
Interview & Editing by Pascal Derrien on behalf of Talent Cloud Media