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Blockchain

The Benefits of Blockchain Technology in Healthcare

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A blockchain-based information exchange could remove friction and costs presented by intermediaries in existing health information exchanges, according to a Deloitte white paper [PDF] on blockchain’s potential benefits for health care titled, “Blockchain: Opportunities for Health Care.”

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The white paper was written in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology ideation challenge—The Use of Blockchain in Health IT and Health-Related Research. Deloitte’s was among 15 papers selected from a field of over 70 submissions from a range of individuals, organizations and companies addressing ways blockchain technology could be used in healthcare.

15 Winners Selected

The winning white papers were chosen based on creativity, ability to inform and foster transformative changes in the industry, and their proposed solutions or recommendations for market viability.

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The relevance of the government’s call for white papers is that it serves as an official acknowledgment of the technology.

Use cases already demonstrate the benefits of blockchain technology’s decentralization, trust disintermediation, enhanced data integrity and lower transaction costs, the Deloitte white paper noted. The exchange of health records and exchange data using the protocol, Integrating the Health Care Enterprise (IHE), offers a way to address medical records accessibility and system interoperability.

The paper examined the technical requirements for health care systems to meet the standards that will support the envisioned National Health Information Network.

Blockchain Targets Pain Points

Blockchain technology offers a distributed framework to improve the integration of health care information across uses and stakeholders. It addresses existing pain points and provides a more disintermediated, secure and efficient system.

The paper listed six Health Information Exchange pain points and corresponding distrubted ledger opportunities: establishing a trust network, cost per transaction, master patient index, varying data standards, limited access to population data, and inconsistent rules and permissions.

Four Key Questions

Deloitte’s blockchain framework offers a guide for organizations interested in the technology. Four key questions can guide blockchain decisions: 1) when to initiate blockchain pilots, 2) how to design use cases, 3) when to strengthen the system through smart contracts, 4) should they deploy consortium, permissioned or permissionless blockchains?

Not all problems call for a distributed ledger solution, the paper noted. The four conditions in which blockchain helps are: 1) multiple parties create transactions that alter information in a shared depository, 2) the parties have to trust the transactions’ validity, 3) the intermediaries are inefficient or not trusted, 4) improved security is required to ensure the system’s integrity.

Once an organization decides to initiate a blockchain, the next step is to design use cases. The primary uses cases are: 1) authenticate and verify information, or 2) transfer value.

Use Case: Data Access

Prescrypt, a proof-of-concept developed by Deloitte Netherlands in collaboration with SNS Bank and Radboud, provides patients full ownership of medical records, enabling them to revoke and grant provider access to personal data. Providers can then authorize prescriptions on the blockchain. Organizations can verify a patient’s prescription history, genetics data or digital identity.

Healthcare tab

To deploy a blockchain solution, organizations can opt for a permissionless blockchain like bitcoin, a permissioned one restricting access to a select group, or a consortium like R3. Deployment also requires a blockchain protocol, the supportive technology to guide the structure and application development.

The protocol will influence the scope of applications and the number of participating users.

Platforms such as Ethereum offer the means to create decentralized applications on top of the blockchain architecture.

Hyperledger is an open-source initiative to provide a platform for corporate blockchain platforms.

The opportunity also exists to improve the health care information system using smart contracts that execute automatically when conditions are met. The application uses algorithms to customize conditions to determine when value should be exchanged or an event should be triggered.

Not A Panacea

Blockchain is not a substitute for an enterprise database, the paper noted. Its solutions are not suited to high volume data requiring total privacy and immediate access within an organization. Instead, blockchain solutions record specific transaction data to be shared across a network in which collaboration and transparency are critical.

Blockchain technology has potential in the U.S. health care realm, the paper stated. A consortium blockchain could realize national health information interoperability.

Such a blockchain could create a transaction layer for all organizations. It could also advance the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) goals to standardize health care information by creating a transaction layer that stakeholders can securely collaborate on.

Nationwide Interoperability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information defined critical components for nationwide interoperability. Current technologies do not fully address these requirements since they are limited in the areas of privacy, security and interoperability. The current health care records are disjointed due to lack of common architectures.

The flow of information from the patient to the health care organization every time a service takes place need not end at the individual organizational level, the paper noted. Health care organizations could direct a standardized set of information to a nationwide distributed ledger transaction layer. The information would then be universally available through the blockchain private key, allowing patients to share their information with organizations more easily.

The blockchain’s proof of work, cryptographic public/private key access, and distributed data bring a new level of health care information integrity.

Enhanced Security

All organizations connected to the blockchain can have their own copy of the health care ledger. If a block should be adjusted, 51% of the network participants would need to approve the change, as every copy would have to be updated to reflect the change. This strengthens security and limits the risk of malicious activity.

Healthcare

Patient Care Outcomes Research (PCOR), one of the successful blockchain use case, conducts patient safety event reporting, clinical research, adverse event identification and public health reporting. And because of the blockchain’s security and privacy properties, PCOR researchers can access a single source of information that maintains integrity of the health care information for every patient.

Challenges To Consider

Various organizational, technical and behavioral economics challenges exist before organizations nationwide can adopt a health care blockchain.

A network of interconnected computers (nodes) are required to supply the computing power to create blocks once a transaction is submitted.

The ledger cannot directly store abstract types of data like MRI images or e-rays. Such data requires links to a separate location.

Further support could be required to encourage organizations to adopt the technology and participate in a network. While some organizations are testing the technology to verify and track medical records and claims internally, blockchain will be stronger when the number of users increases.

Forecasting the costs of operating a blockchain within a private enterprise or among a consortium of partners is difficult. To understand the costs to meet HHS and partner needs, targeted experiments and common blockchain guidelines are required to test the technology with a view to scale.

The Case For Experimentation

Experiments with blockchain technology could help HHS determine what it can accomplish. The experiment design should address holistic work stream problem sets with transactions crossing various parties from creation to archival storage.

Following the experiment through complete transaction cycles will allow developers to address friction points and determine areas of advantage before nationwide implementation.

Images from Shutterstock and HHS.

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s Offensive Continues as Prices Breach $3,400

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Bitcoin’s value jumped to a new record on Tuesday, a clear indication that the bull market was back in vogue following a month of turmoil.

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$3,000 & Beyond

The virtual currency (BTC/USD) rose 2.4% to $3,468.00 in overnight trading, according to Bitstamp. Before the weekend, the BTC/USD had crossed the $3,000 mark only once.

At current prices, the market value for all bitcoins is more than $57 billion – the highest on record.

While post-fork exuberance shows no signs of fading, traders are reminded that bitcoin’s recent leg up has been accompanied by decreasing volume. In fact, a similar trend has been observed during every leg up from $1,800.

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Zooming out to the 1-day Bollinger Band, the market appears to be overbought. A historical analysis reveals that, more often than not, a puncturing of the Bollinger Band in either direction leads to a broad pullback in the market.

The daily RSI also adds credence to the view that the market is approaching overbought territory.

Bitcoin Cash Trading Well Below Its Peak

Bitcoin’s surge followed the creation of a spin-off digital currency – Bitcoin Cash (BCH) – last week. The newly minted coin spiked above $700.00 on Aug. 2 before a series of volatile moves dragged prices back toward $200.00.

BCH was back above $300 on Tuesday, having gained more than 27%. Its total market is valued at more than $5 billion.

Coinbase Caves to Investor Demand

U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced that it plans to support BCH as of January 2018. Initially, the exchange said it would not support the new coin, triggering outrage among users and a surge in withdrawals.

A contingency of Coinbase customers also threatened to sue the exchange for not supporting BCH, equating the decision to a brokerage withholding new shares from its investors.

“We are planning to have support for Bitcoin Cash by 1 January 2018, assuming no additional risks emerge during that time,” the leading exchange said on its blog.

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Blockchain

Bulletproof

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Hi Everyone,

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One of the things that’s been bugging me about blockchain technology is another technology that is on the rise just as fast and could possibly make it irrelevant.

Quantum computing is currently under development by some of the biggest tech players in the world. IBM, the NSA, and Google are all working hard to make everything that we know about computers irrelevant within the next decade.

The idea is quite simple, in the world of quantum physics anything is possible. For example, throwing a basketball through a brick wall is not a very probable thing to occur but the odds of it happening are greater than zero.

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In computers, it means rather than making one calculation at a time in a sequential order, a quantum computer could theoretically just calculate all the possibilities at once.

So things like passwords or private keys, for example, could theoretically be reproduced in a matter of moments. This of course, threatens not just Bitcoin but all digital payments, online banking, and virtually all areas of encryption and cyber-security.

Now, we’re still several years away from this becoming a real concern. So now is the right time to start building the infrastructure to protect ourselves against it.

A company called Droplex, who’s pre-ICO is just entering its final hour aims to build a bullet proof blockchain that will be impervious to future Q-hackers. Now, I haven’t personally looked too deep at this project as of yet but I am extremely comforted by the fact that somebody is building a fix for this already.

Perhaps in 5 years or so we can have another debate about the best way to upgrade Bitcoin for Q-safety.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

Stocks are down

Bezos Briefly Best

August 1st BTC Deadline

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of July 28th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Market Overview

Problems pursue in Washington for the precarious President.

The newly appointed communications director Anthony Scaramucci is now taking swipes at the chief of staff and Trump himself has been lashing out at his own attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Some speculate that Trump is getting ready to fire Sessions in order to get the special prosecutor Robert Muller off his back.

Meanwhile, the bill to repeal Obamacare was just shot down in the Senate as the notable Republican and previous presidential candidate (2008) John Mccain voted no.

Stock markets have not been performing well so far in Asia and the European markets just opened with a notable gap down.

At least the USD seems to be getting some support.

This chart showing USDollar support was posted by @4exPirate Dawid Kowalski in Poland who is arguably one of the most consistent traders on the eToro network.

Congratulations to Jeff Bezos

…for briefly becoming the world’s richest person. Jeff managed to snag the top spot off Bill and kept it for almost 3.5 hours.

Most of Bezos’ fortune is in Amazon shares, so when the market opened with a significant gap up his net worth reached $90 Billion. However, a sour earnings report from Amazon sent the stock back down.

Turbulence in Crypto

If he times it right, Bezos may just be able to buy all of the cryptocurrencies currently in circulation, which is now holding steady at about $90 Billion.

Or not, the sale of 17% of all AMZN shares along with word that the founder is selling would probably push the price significantly down before he could offload most of them. Of course, that much buying pressure would also move the cryptos up.

In any case, if anybody were considering to buy that many digital assets they might want to wait until next week. Given that August 1st is coming up this Tuesday and still nobody really knows what’s about to happen to Bitcoin.

For those of you looking to trade this event, make sure to get your orders in as early as possible as there may be some downtime on BTC depending on the way it plays out.

Wishing you and yours a very pleasant weekend.

This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be investment advice or recommendation.

The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro.

Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Bitcoin

Valuing Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Applications

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Arguably the most interesting financial trend of 2017 is the spreading of cryptocurrencies, especially in the Ethereum ecosystem. With the ICO boom of this year, a lot of different business models have been connected to tokens or blockchains of their own. This brings up several questions in the mind value-conscious investors, as given the special properties of these coins, and especially considering the various distribution and usage schemes of the tokens, valuing them is tricky, to say the least.

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Whether or not we are in a bubble currently is a layered question, as we are definitely in a huge speculative wave that will end badly for several coins, but the segment is in the early phase of adoption, and the market as a whole will likely multiply in the coming years.

As I concluded in my comparison with the Dot-Com bubble, selective investing in the ICO-boom is vital for long-term investors. To make things more complicated, traditional valuation models generally fail with cryptocurrencies, because of the hybrid stock-commodity properties of them and the novelty of the technology, coupled with the questions regarding the future usage patterns.

Is it possible to set up a framework to analyze all the different business models and value the connected coins? Or is it possible to, at least, determine hard guidelines to follow when selecting the coins to hold or forget? I will answer that question below and in the coming second part of the article.

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