IBM Watson Health said Wednesday it has signed a research initiative with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aimed at defining a secure, efficient and scalable exchange of health data using blockchain technology.
IBM and the FDA will explore the exchange of owner mediated data from several sources, such as Electronic Medical Records, clinical trials, genomic data, and health data from mobile devices, wearables and the “Internet of Things.”
The initial focus will be on oncology-related data. IBM and the FDA will explore how a blockchain framework can potentially provide benefits to public health by supporting important use cases for information exchange across a wide variety of data types, including clinical trials and “real world” evidence data.
The initiative with the FDA is a two-year agreement. IBM Watson Health and the FDA plan to share initial research findings in 2017, according to IBM.
New insights combining data across the healthcare ecosystem can potentially lead to new biomedical discoveries. Patient data from wearables and connected devices for example, can help doctors and caregivers better manage population health.
The collaboration will also address new ways to leverage the large volumes of diverse data in today’s biomedical and healthcare industries. A secure owner-mediated data sharing ecosystem could potentially hold the promise of new discoveries and improved public health.
“The healthcare industry is undergoing significant changes due to the vast amounts of disparate data being generated. Blockchain technology provides a highly secure, decentralized framework for data sharing that will accelerate innovation throughout the industry,” said Shahram Ebadollahi, Vice President for Innovations and Chief Science Officer, IBM Watson Health.