Today, new advancements in technology are allowing patients greater control over their health data. Not only will we be able to choose what information their health providers to have access to but what’s being collected for insurance, research, and other purposes.
Health data privacy has been garnering quite a bit of media attention these days. And for good reason as consumers are growing increasingly concerned about whose hands their private information is ending up in.
It’s here where a new era of innovation fueling the intersection between personalized data and blockchain technology shows immense promise. These developments signal a leap forward for care delivery outcomes, efficiencies, and scalability.
Blockchain offers a cutting edge approach to security and immutability in an age of sensitive health information. One rapidly growing enterprise at the epicenter of this is Bowhead Health.
Known for the creation of the world’s first smart vitamin dispenser with data-driven recommendations based on one’s health and lifestyle needs, Bowhead is now in forward-drive with a state-of-the-art encrypted wellness tracker and personalized health app that allows user control over their personal health information and healthy lifestyle intentions.
The beauty of this tracker is that it employs Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts that self-execute without necessitating third parties to touch patient data in order to facilitate it. Moreover, it allows for the use of Bowhead tokens for healthcare related purchases such as those involving health-promoting activities, clinical studies and even incentive programs tied to preventative health and treatments.
In an interview with Blockchain Healthcare Review, Dr. Rhea Mehta, CEO of Bowhead Health talked about her ambitious efforts to foster a comprehensive digital tool that allows people to reclaim control over their data while pursuing their healthy lifestyle aims.
Share with us briefly a little about you.
I have a Ph.D. in Molecular Toxicology and Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Toronto and am a certified integrative health coach, with over 10 years of experience in scientific research and preventative healthcare practice.
What are you discovering from your journey so far?
Some of the biggest issues holding back the progress of the healthcare sector in the digital age have to do with unmet consumer demands for a level of security and interoperability suitable for sensitive personal data. As more stakeholders, tools, and applications interact with our health data, it’s necessary to have a streamlined and secure approach to sharing data, and one that is fully managed by the user.
So how did Bowhead Health come into existence?
We believe we’ve reached a point in history where we now have the technology to fix the framework of health data management and optimize the system. What I’m referring to is blockchain and smart contract technology which enables patients and users to become the managers of their own encrypted data. This was the catalyst for us.
How did you personally become acquainted with Blockchain?
All Bowhead Health co-founders were personally interested in the space through family and their respective networks. As an example, my brother in law was an early adopter in the Bitcoin movement as the inventor of the first Bitcoin paper wallet, Bit Address. When we first learned about healthcare as a use case, we didn’t need to be convinced of the potential impact of the technology. We made the decision to enter the space relatively quickly by conducting an initial coin offering to validate our idea and simultaneously raise capital.
Tell us about your decision to integrate blockchain with your personalized health app and wellness tracker?
We originally built our platform as a blockchain-based system to allow people to become the managers of their personal and medical health data. This would easily allow them access to their information from anywhere in the world via a mobile app. Moreover, they could securely share with their practitioners, and even sell to clinical researchers to benefit research in the areas of population health and precision medicine.
Describe the sorts of problems blockchain solves for you?
Blockchain enables data ownership by the patient and therefore gives that person the opportunity to play a role in decision making, which is incredibly empowering. This technology also enables data portability and effective health information exchange which means that doctors now can get access to more diverse data from their patients – and data from all sources, which means a more accurate and personalized protocol for users.
Can you share more about the technical aspects of this?
Sure. We’ve built our platform using the Ethereum blockchain, which gives us access to smart contracts which are essentially digital contracts that self-execute, without the need for a third party. With smart contracts, patients can control the sharing of their data with practitioners and other stakeholders in the space and even earn incentives for lending that data.
What emerging trend you see on the horizon over the next 12-18 months in terms of the intersection between Blockchain and Wellness Data?
We are excited about the potential to work with pharmaceutical companies that are willing to purchase wellness data directly from users instead of third parties, which is both expensive and inefficient. We see this as an emerging trend and are happy to be at the forefront of it.
Are there any others?
Another emerging trend is tied to proven methods of incentivization and gamification. This approach can be used to motivate users to build their health records with wellness data and/or help them take proactive steps to improve their daily health and wellbeing.
In closing, any final thoughts about blockchain, data tracking and the future of healthcare?
In the healthcare 2.0 world that we envision, everybody with an interest in good health care wins. As an industry, we have a lot of work to do to upgrade standards, and as individuals to become educated on healthcare security. By bringing privacy into our healthcare discussions, we can start to cultivate holistic respect for our data, thereby ensuring a delivery model that offers trust along with quality care.
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Managing Editor Michael Scott is a renowned blockchain journalist with a strong passion for the new digital economy. Prior to his career in media, he spent 10+ years serving leadership posts in healthcare, including UC Davis Medical Center institutional review board. Michael has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The Ohio State University and a Master of Public Administration in Health Services Administration from the University of San Francisco.