BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY & HEALTH CARE | Part 1
Big Data Is Not That Big After All!
Data is life. Do you agree with this statement? If you do not agree with it, then let me take out some time to explain…
The Ubiquitous Nature of Data
From the inception of the struggle to understand the nature of data, man has definitely made a whole lot of progress, and he is still improving in his understanding of the nature of data — how it can be applied, its limitations [if any], and its future.
I know Blaise Pascal, Pythagoras along with other ancient men who labored in the fields of mathematical sciences would be proud of what humans are doing with the basic principles that they discovered in the wide field of mathematics.
Novel fields like data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc are a few of the new areas in mathematical sciences that have evolved from the early foundations of discoveries in statistics, mathematics & computation.
We no longer need an abacus to help us do our calculations. We no longer need to store computers in huge rooms [with bundles of wires and a lot of noise and heat]. Today, smartwatches and microchips can do the work of a first-generation computer. All made possible because of our understanding of the nature of data.
Data is everywhere. When you take a few steps to the kitchen to make for yourself a cup of coffee, you are never aware of the complex interactions that have gone into play that make it possible for you to carry out that “simple activity.”
Check this video out I stole from YouTube, it will help your understanding of the basics of how Blockchain works.
From the more complex organic/biological side of things to the maybe less complex aspect of your immediate environment, the element of data is always in play.
The ability of your brain to coordinate the execution of that activity [getting a cup of coffee] requires a lot of data [your brain has a memory bank of all that it takes for you to decide to make a cup of coffee, go to the restroom, or do any basic stuff around your home].
The neural pathways in your brain are made up of all kinds of information that are constantly interacting within an extremely complex environment of biochemical compositions, comprising of protein molecules, ions, cells, and a host of other organic elements that make it possible for the brain to work on & with data.
The amount of steps you take to the kitchen is calculated by your brain [even without you knowing it or giving it any thoughts]. The amount of energy that you will expend is also data, and it can be calculated.
Your eyes, ears, legs, hands, skin & nose all have to capture millions of data types from your environment and send this information to your brain, which has to quickly [process] arrange them into meaningful stimulus and send quick feedback within the split of a second.
When we go out on a normal day, let’s say to work, data can be found everywhere. From the volume of fuel in your car’s tank to the distance you will travel, the intensity of light, the width, and length of your car, the level of noise around you, the clothes you wear; its texture, size, and color, the circumference of your steering, the amount of force and energy that you will use to drive to work.
If I keep going on, then It will be impossible for me to finish writing this article, because we will go on and on and on discussing how the element of data affects our existence and is reflected in our everyday life.
Time will not allow me to talk about your DNA [Which I will talk about in another post]. The most complex molecule in the whole universe, which is primarily made up of DATA. Now, the question is “should we take data seriously?”
The Advent of Blockchain Technology
A Little History
When the term blockchain is mentioned, the thought that creeps into the uninformed mind of the average Joe is or are? Let me help them make guesses; Cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum. Well, they are not wrong if they think of blockchain this way, because the main use of blockchain now is in the world of cryptocurrencies, and this industry is harnessing the potential that lies in blockchain technology.
Blockchain is a decentralized or distributed digital ledger that can be used to document transactions. As we all know that one of the problems of Information Communication Technology is how to efficiently store data. Blockchain technology may provide us with a solid solution to this challenge.
The technology has been around for some time now, it was only revived in the year 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto [a pseudonym], who used it to develop the first cryptocurrency on the planet, bitcoin, which I know that you have heard of.
Though the technology has existed for a while before Satoshi used it to create bitcoin. From documented history, we know that Stuart Harber and W. Scott Stornetta were the first fellows in 1992 to design a basic system that stored data using a “block system,” that was cryptographically secured.
When we talk about cryptography, it simply is hiding information behind a set of codes, to prevent unauthorized access.
It is also important for us to know that there have been speculations as to who really discovered blockchain technology, with names like Dorian Nakamoto, Nick Szabo, Hal Finney, and Steve Craig, all names and identities that have been implicated in the history of the founding of blockchain technology.
I came across blockchain technology, let’s say about five or four years ago, and from my first interaction with it, through cryptocurrencies, I have been fascinated by its somewhat weird nature. Did I just say weird? And ever since then, I have been personally learning, gaining more knowledge about blockchain, and its specific importance in health care practice.
The technology has afforded data scientists the opportunity to adopt it in a variety of industries, and health care is not exempted.
The most important resource that anyone can lay their hands on in any industry is INFORMATION. And one big bone of contention in health care industries for ages now is concerning the ownership of health care data – who really owns this data? Is it the health care provider or the client?
Blockchain technology can seize the control of health care data from the hands of these huge health care institutions and put the control of health care data in the hands of the rightful owners – the client/patient.
In the next part of this article, we will go into more detail. You can see this first part as an introduction. I have been doing a lot of studies on Blockchain Technology, and I can’t wait to share my little gleanings with curious you.
Do stay tuned. In the next issue, I am going to talk in-depth about:
- How blockchain technology can be utilized in health care
- Most recent breakthroughs in the use of blockchain technology in health care
- The obvious challenges we might face while trying to utilize blockchain in health care and
- Who owns healthcare data? The health care provider or the client?