Harnessing the power of blockchain technology

Speech at National Press Club by Gilbert Verdian, Quant Network CEO — Harnessing the Power of Blockchain Technology.

Tuesday 19 June 2018, 10AM

Good morning and thank you.

The United States is among those at the forefront of blockchain technology and to stay in the forefront — the US should continue to help promote policies that will lead to mass adoption of this technology.

Not since the birth of the Internet itself has a technology shown such promise and elicited such excitement than blockchain and distributed ledger technology.

Traditionally, much of the attention regarding blockchain has centred on Bitcoin — we need to forget about Bitcoin for a moment.

Because it is only a small part of the larger, exciting and disruptive opportunities that blockchain presents.

It is predicted than in the next few years, much of our digital consumption will be run via a blockchain foundation without us even realising it.

To break the technology down to its core, it provides human-to-human and machine-to-machine trust through built-in integrity and cryptography controls, allowing us for the first time to trust the network so we can trust each other without the need to know each other. Before Blockchain, we’ve had to build institutions, regulations and complex systems to provide us the ability to trust each other.

In order to achieve scale, we require mass adoption, interoperability and standardisation.

While the potential of this technology IS tremendous — without all three the full promise of the technology cannot be realied

To be clear though — blockchain is not a panacea.

Blockchain is not going to cure cancer by itself, but it is critical part of reshaping the systems that will.

When it comes to standardisation — it’s important to note this actually enables innovation.

Standards allow competing technologies to work together.

It also provides a framework for openness and governance.

This is why I founded the ISO Standard for Blockchain in 2015 to avoid some of the pitfalls of the past and to legitimise the technology.

In addition to standardisation, a fundamental flaw of blockchain is lack of interoperability and the current trend of creating of closed proprietary networks.

We’ve made those technological mistakes before which have resulted in monopolies and limitations. It was only when openness and choice occurred that resulted in prosperity and innovation.

The idea for Overledger was sparked during my time as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of Department of Health while working in Australia.

It was here that I first saw the potential for directly advancing patient care through interoperability.

It is because healthcare systems are overly complex and burdened by the legacy systems they run on that are often more than 30 years old.

Patient systems have always been disparate — largely due to fragmentation.

These disparate systems are difficult to transform — even more so than financial systems — because of the critical nature and risk to patient lives.

Now with Blockchain technology we have to opportunity to change this landscape entirely and transform healthcare

BUT in order for to do so — we would require either 1) All patient records and health systems, data to be centralised within the same network and system — which is a costly and unrealistic expectation.

OR we can create a technology that connects clinical systems and data by leveraging existing investments and systems without the need to make massive amounts of change, and this is exactly why we created Overledger.

Our technology is agnostic over-lay which connects to existing systems networks and data, creating a new decentralised data “superhighway” to for the first time see the whole Healthcare system securely, as a whole.

At South by South West In 2017, Vice President Joe Biden said that:

“If we did nothing more than break down the silos of preventing greater collaboration because of how the system has been arranged, not intentionally…we could extend the life of a lot of people with cancer”.

He was speaking about his first hand experience and frustration with the lack of interoperability of electronic record that impacted his son’s cancer treatment.

It should not be understated that healthcare stands to benefit immensely from this technology

Not only can this be applied to enhancing patient care but we can also track and reduce healthcare wastage

There are estimates that one third of the total healthcare spend in the US which equates just over 1 trillion US dollar is wasted every year

Just think of what we could do with those wasted resources.

  • To clarify, this wastage — includes
  • administrative complexity
  • uncoordinated and improper care,
  • pricing failures,
  • as well as fraud and over-treatment.

Speaking of which, we know that the opioid epidemic facing this country right now directly stems from prescription fraud and over-treatment.

Now, while Blockchain by itself won’t deter people from misusing drugs — what distributed ledger technology enables is providing an audit-able, immutable trail of information and can track medicines to make sure what’s coming out from the manufacturer ends up at the right point.

This is important because currently, the national database of prescriptions, providers and patients can be manipulated.

Once we can start tagging drugs with an immutable audit trail, you can do what was impossible before.

By making these drugs traceable it provides a much more comprehensive view of what each party is doing with the opioids.

Blockchain adds the full distribution picture, and could be tremendously valuable in exposing leaks and bad actors who misuse the system.

But this is only the first step -if we were able to take it a step further and connect the supply chain data with existing networks — think of what could be possible?

There is however a misconception that in healthcare the application of DLT is impossible because the players will not come to the table — that we would need to convince the pharmaceutical sector who are more traditional and may be reluctant to adopt such a new untested technology — when this simply not true.

We know that the pharmaceutical sector are at the forefront and embracing this technology already piloting blockchain.

So the biggest challenge lies with the lack of interoperability of existing fragmented systems and networks.

While the pharmaceutical sector have embraced this technology. The pharmaceutical sector won’t all be operating on a single blockchain across the industry nor should they have to.

Nor should they have to reconcile multiple chains and databases centrally, putting patient records and valuable health data at risk of compromise.

Nor should suppliers or contract manufacturers and healthcare providers be buried under the technical complexity of monitoring and participating in multiple blockchains.

They should be able to keep their legacy systems but tap into an over-lay that connects them to blockchain.

This is exactly the unique solution that Overledger offers.

In addition — Overledger enabled Health networks can use the proven methods of cyber security that have tackled fraud for many years and apply that in identify patterns of abuse and bad actors.

We describe our work at Quant as laying the foundation with Overledger to build the Internet of Trust.

What we mean by that is that finally with blockchain technology, Overledger can fulfil the original Vision of the Internet.

When the internet was created — it was a closed network and has an architecture of divulged centralisation, mass amounts of data are stored in central repositories and continuously targeted and compromised as we have seen over the last 15 years. And this is only going to get worse.

This is important, as digital privacy and cyber security are even more so important than ever before, affecting national security, affecting critical infrastructure and people.

We need a different approach, and for the first time, we have the opportunity to realise this with decentralisation.

With decentralised data, the data is never held in the one place.

And the data is broken up into small, pieces and distributed to all the participants of the network

So in order to compromise the complete data set , you would have to compromise every, single participant of that blockchain network

This can often be in excess of millions of computers.

This makes the effort versus the reward — unjustifiable.

Decentralisation makes us safer and more secure.

It also presents and interesting solution to current threats of breaches to voting systems. If voting record are encrypted and held across millions of computers — it’s practically impossible to compromise.

In addition, for privacy and security of personal information, we can now provide a level control and access to ones own personal data that we previously never experienced.

Identity checks can be done once and then transferred as required.

Your personal or medical health records can be carried in your pocket and accessed as required — the same way we can activate data roaming on our phones as we travel.

IN SUMMARY:

The world’s ten largest companies are heavily invested in blockchain technology — so should be the world’s leading economies.

More and more everyday enterprise and governments are recognising the value in exploring this technology.

We are here to enable openness and choice for organisations and give them the freedom to avoid any proprietary limitations when using blockchain technology.

We are honouring the original vision of the Internet by decentralising it.

We also want to work in partnership with governments and business to solve the unsolvable challenges with this technology and achieve what was impossible to achieve.

This is why we believe we can help address the opioid issue.

By applying the proven cyber security, fraud and money laundering detection methods to help make a positive and lasting impact on this on-going crisis.

This will provide better governance and visibility across the health system and identify bad actors and deter any misuse and abuse.

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