30 May 2023 14:21, UTC
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In the ever-evolving digital data arena, Blockchain technology has changed the nature of the playing field. Blockchain’s increased transparency, better security, and real-time traceability are driving the technology’s dynamic growth.
To illustrate, a 2023 Grand View Research report valued the worldwide Blockchain technology sector at $10.02 billion in 2022. From 2023 to 2030, the aggregate Blockchain market is predicted to expand at an impressive 87.7 percent compound annual growth rate (or CAGR). A huge influx of venture capital funding is driving this aggressive market expansion.
Leen Kawas, PhD, is well versed in venture capital’s impact on emerging biotech and life sciences business growth. Dr. Leen Kawas is Propel Bio Partners’ Managing General Partner. This Los Angeles-based biotechnology venture capital firm works with biotech entrepreneurs seeking to advance their companies. Dr. Kawas recognized that Blockchain technology is important to many business ventures.
Blockchain technology can deliver business benefits
The 21st-century business landscape relies on stakeholders’ adherence to traditional business practices. Concurrently, companies should also embrace digital technology that improves efficiencies, automates certain functions, and reduces operations costs. Dr. Leen Kawas emphasized that Blockchain technology can be integrated into these areas.
How Blockchain technology benefits businesses?
With Blockchain’s distributed ledger technology, every Blockchain member’s computer records (and stores) a copy of each transaction. When updates occur, all ledger copies receive and validate them simultaneously. This practice prevents one point of failure that could compromise the entire system.
In addition, each Blockchain member can view a transaction’s entire history. This electronic audit trail virtually banishes fraud opportunities. End-to-end encryption and permission-based access mean hackers cannot obtain sensitive business or customer data.
Not surprisingly, Blockchain technology has delivered benefits in diverse industries. The banking and financial services, insurance, supply chain, and food production and distribution sectors are ripe for realizing Blockchain’s benefits.
Blockchain technology in healthcare
The expanding United States healthcare industry began integrating Blockchain technology several years ago. In 2023, market research firm Mordor Intelligence published an intensive report on healthcare’s Blockchain market. The report also included market forecasts from 2023 to 2028.
Researchers expect healthcare’s Blockchain technology market to see continued growth. This is largely due to more acceptance of Blockchain as a healthcare operations service. Dr. Leen Kawas is well acquainted with Blockchain’s healthcare applications, and she predicted further market expansion.
As would be expected, technological breakthroughs are fueling Blockchain’s growth. Specifically, several leading technology companies are creating complex technical solutions to meet market demand and improve their respective competitive positions.
North America remains the top market
The North American healthcare Blockchain market is predicted to be the world’s largest (and fastest-growing) market. Issues with patient and facility data security, increased healthcare fraud, and constantly rising operations costs continue to be troublesome for companies across the market. These conditions are driving the expanding implementation of this technology in the healthcare industry.
With that said, however, healthcare-focused Blockchain technology implementation requires specialized expertise. Few companies have this capability, limiting Blockchain services to a few large-scale providers.
Blockchain technology’s multiple healthcare applications
Blockchain’s distributed ledger technology is not directly incorporated into patient care. However, Dr. Leen Kawas remarked that Blockchain technology can be integrated into multiple healthcare support operations.
Secure patient medical records transfers and unbreachable data security are at the core of Blockchain’s healthcare applications. Medical supply chain management also benefits from Blockchain’s involvement. Finally, researchers often harness Blockchain technology to solve the human genetic code’s mysteries.
Blockchain-based medical records access
United States hospitals and medical practices collectively offer a full spectrum of care for patients’ medical conditions. On many occasions, prompt medical diagnosis and treatment are keys to positive patient outcomes.
To deliver these services, however, healthcare providers must have access to each patient’s medical records. Dr. Leen Kawas recognized that obtaining this access presents one of the biggest bottlenecks in the entire United States healthcare industry.
Staff members tasked with this time-consuming process incur considerable expense and are not available for other functions. Perhaps most importantly, the patient cannot receive timely care until their records have been correctly transferred. Sometimes, this delay can negatively impact the patient’s health outcome.
A Blockchain-based medical record system provides a streamlined solution. As Dr. Leen Kawas explained, Blockchain’s decentralized scheme leads to a single patient data ecosystem. Physicians, hospitals, therapists, pharmacists, and other treatment partners can easily access each patient’s data immediately. This seamless access enables more accurate diagnoses and tailored treatment plans.
Healthcare data security applications
Healthcare data breaches remain a major concern in all sectors of the industry. In fact, large-scale breaches are fairly common, with cybercriminals typically obtaining users’ banking and credit details. Data thieves also seek out health records and detailed genomic testing data.
Dr. Leen Kawas stressed that Blockchain data security provides an optimal solution. By definition, decentralized Blockchain technology enables an absolutely incorruptible patient data log. Physicians, other healthcare providers, and patients can safely share applicable information in real time. Lightning-fast data transfers greatly decrease the data vulnerability window.
Concurrently, Blockchain technology enables complete privacy. Complex, highly secure access codes consistently protect users’ identities and sensitive medical data at every juncture.
Medical supply chain oversight
Medical labs and manufacturing facilities produce millions of medication doses for the United States market. However, Dr. Leen Kawas noted that the integrity of the medical supply chain has historically been in question. Providers and patients have often expressed concern over the legitimacy of medicines manufacturers.
High-profile medication tampering incidents have also occurred. Perhaps the most well-known case occurred in the fall of 1982. Seven Chicago-area residents died from cyanide-infused capsules that a criminal had substituted for Tylenol Extra-Strength capsules.
This tragic incident led to manufacturer Johnson & Johnson’s nationwide recall of Tylenol products. When production resumed, the company added three anti-tampering mechanisms to every Tylenol package. In addition, Johnson & Johnson initiated random product inspections during every production cycle.
Blockchain’s role in ensuring shipping integrity
Today, Blockchain technology’s decentralization ensures complete shipping transparency. The process begins when a drug ledger is created for a certain medication. The “paper trail” continues through the distribution cycle to the end consumer.
Dr. Leen Kawas has firsthand knowledge of this Blockchain technology benefit. In her previous role as Athira Pharma’s CEO, she successfully developed several drug candidates likely destined for marketplace distribution.
Wide-ranging genomics breakthroughs
During the past few years, noted Dr. Leen Kawas, genomics sequencing companies have successfully mapped the human genome. This information gives researchers new tools to predict disease and promote enhanced human health. Genomics technology has also become more affordable for many of the United States population.
Keeping users’ genomic data secure is of primary importance. Blockchain technology is uniquely designed to achieve this goal, as a Blockchain can securely accommodate billions of genomic data elements. In addition, Blockchain can function as a platform where individuals can market their encrypted genomic information. In turn, researchers have access to an ever-growing volume of valuable data.
The healthcare industry drags its heels on Blockchain adoption
Despite Blockchain technology’s multiple healthcare applications, the industry has relatively slowly adopted this game-changing technology. Dr. Leen Kawas referenced a March 2022 interview with Avaneer Health CEO Stuart Hanson. Talking with Healthcare IT News, he noted the factors behind healthcare organizations’ reluctance to embrace Blockchain.
“I remember when numerous healthcare organizations began to explore the potential of Blockchain in 2018 and 2019. Many large tech organizations identified ways to use Blockchain and started projects, and innovation teams at health systems and payers built teams to focus on the potential of Blockchain. But many of those initiatives have since been abandoned.
“It appears to me that, while there were many good ideas and the best of intentions, one challenge, in particular, may have been very difficult to overcome: Blockchain is not a plug-and-play technology. It’s also not a silver bullet as a stand-alone technology solution or even enabler.
“Blockchain is not an app that can be easily installed; nor is it a platform that can be added to the tech stack. In order to use Blockchain effectively, entire processes have to change, workflows need to evolve, tech stacks need to be adapted to leverage the real strengths of the capability, and mindsets on how to operate the business have to shift dramatically,” Stuart Hanson remarked.
The path forward for Blockchain in healthcare
However, Stuart Hanson believes Blockchain lends itself to adoption ─ if organizations can tailor their operations to accept the new technology’s infrastructure needs. “The hesitancy to adopt Blockchain can be overcome by organizations that are ready to move beyond experiments by adapting processes and tech stacks to capitalize on the potential of Blockchain.
“Over the past two years, organizations like IBM and PNC Bank have been collaborating with companies that usually compete against each other ─ to design the governance structure needed to create a community and healthcare network that is Blockchain-enabled…Because several organizations are working together toward a common goal, there is an increased likelihood of success.
“So the industry needs more organizations to commit to changing their overall mindsets to reflect these values in order to scale the adoption of Blockchain. [This] can unlock significant value of underlying technology investments that have been made over the last decade,” Hanson concluded.
Dr. Leen Kawas affirms Blockchain’s healthcare potential
As an accomplished biotechnology leader, Dr. Leen Kawas stated that Blockchain technology’s design provides diverse applicability in healthcare settings. She continues to monitor the Blockchain and looks for opportunities to integrate this technology into Propel Bio Partners’ biotech ventures.
About Dr. Leen Kawas
Leen Kawas, PhD, is a respected United States biotechnology industry leader. As Propel Bio Partners’ Managing General Partner, Dr. Kawas leads the venture capital firm’s quest for exceptional biotech entrepreneurs. Since 2022, Propel Bio Partners has provided these emerging companies with funding plus targeted technical expertise.
Before her Propel Bio Partners venture, Dr. Leen Kawas thrived as Athira Pharma Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer. She successfully spearheaded several drug candidates in this capacity and executed the firm’s Initial Public Offering. Dr. Kawas received numerous industry awards for her committed leadership.
Dr. Leen Kawas began her biotechnology career preparation in her native Jordan. In 2008, she earned a Pharmacy degree from the respected University of Jordan. She completed her graduate education in the United States.
In 2011, Dr. Leen Kawas graduated from the University of Washington with a Doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology. She completed the Foster School of Business Executive Training Program to fine-tune her business management skills.
Today, Dr. Leen Kawas stands ready to bring her multifaceted biotech and business knowledge to Propel Bio Partners’ venture capital collaborations. Her knowledge of Blockchain’s capabilities and applications enables her to deliver informed guidance to the firm’s healthcare-focused entrepreneurs.
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