Medicating on Blockchain

An Australian healthcare startup is seeking to prove that there is more to blockchain technology than speculation on cryptocurrencies.

ScalaMed is an Australian healthcare startup founded by a doctor and former pharmaceutical executive Dr. Tal Rapke, which utilizes not just blockchain but puts it together with a smartphone app through which patients can access their data.

The startup is at the prototype and pilot stages and plans to test it in the coming months to see if it can deliver what the company said was a “scalable, global and impactful solution to a very real and costly problem.”

Ethereum Medicine

The blockchain is of course more than cryptocurrency units that people ascribe value to and trade. In its purest definition, it is about sharing information and data in a general ledger that bypasses the need for different players to build their infrastructure, and where those with encrypted permission can access and share information.

ScalaMed solves a common medical problem that many patients who have multiple medications face. It enables them to access all of their blockchain-stamped prescriptions through a smartphone app. It gives them secure access to their data and better information to decide when and where they can redeem their prescriptions.  

Using the Ethererum Blockchain, prescriptions are encrypted and stored in a patented way. It protects privacy, prevents double spending on prescriptions and creates a unique one source of truth for a patient’s medical history.

Industry Implications

For the health industry, blockchain medical application offers potentially significant benefits in a sector where sub-optimal prescription management is diverting resources and driving up costs.

Medication errors cost around AUD 380 million per year due to avoidable hospital admissions, and poor adherence costs patients AUD 660 million per year. The Australian market dispenses around 280 million prescriptions per year, but the potential application of the concept goes well beyond Australian borders.

“ScalaMed has the potential for massive impact, with minimal disruption to patients and providers,” Rapke, ScalaMed’s CEO and founder said.

“Blockchain has a source of truth for prescription data; it’s the best form of technology to solve this real-life problem with its solid balance between usability and security. Rather than using paper or storing patient’s prescriptions in central repositories, ScalaMed’s technology offers a more secure and patient-centered approach to realizing a digital prescription future,” he added.

ScalaMed is basing their venture on the potential of blockchain to not only save costs through the creation of a secure and central source of truth, but use that primary source to drive adherence, compliance, and help patients stay on top of their prescriptions--all done via a smartphone.

It presents as a significant business case which, if successful in coming months, can not only be rolled out and deliver value to ScalaMed and its investors but prove the application of blockchain in a vital industry vertical.