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Health Wizz leverages blockchain technology to give patients power over their data

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Health Wizz is capitalizing on the growing blockchain trend.

The company recently unveiled its platform, which allows consumers to aggregate and share their personal health information.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based startup also participated in the Pitch Perfect contest at MedCity ENGAGE in October.

In a recent interview, CEO Raj Sharma pointed to a few key reasons why Health Wizz decided to utilize blockchain technology to power the platform.

One is the issue of security. “We as consumers are tired of trusting institutions with our data,” he said. “For us, it was really key that even when our consumers use our app, they don’t have to trust us. They have to trust blockchain.”

Additionally, Sharma noted that the startup wanted to create a marketplace of health data where pharmaceutical companies, research organizations and others can communicate with consumers. Blockchain was an ideal way to make these connections happen and allow groups to liaise even when they don’t trust each other.

Health Wizz’s platform works as such: Patients can view and download their data from hospitals, their primary care physician and others. Additionally, specific organizations can use cryptocurrency to incentivize patients to contribute their health data for research. This currency comes in the form of OmCoin, a digital Ethereum token issued by Health Wizz. These tokens serve as digital access keys, allowing users to exchange information.

San Diego-based MintHealth is another player in the market is leveraging blockchain in a similar way. The company’s recently revealed self-sovereign personal health record utilizes the technology. Patients can access MintHealth online or via a mobile app. Each individual has a global identifier that allows them to access their information and oversee permissions to it. There are also payer-funded digital incentive tokens called vidamints, which patients receive when they partake in healthy behaviors. They can then use the tokens to help pay for healthcare-related costs.

Sharma said that although Health Wizz and MintHealth both use blockchain, the companies are different.

“We are using a public Ethereum blockchain,” he said. “We don’t actually put data on the blockchain itself. We put keys on the blockchain. [The information] goes from the participant to the clinical trial. It’s a very different approach in the sense that … some others are talking about putting data on the blockchain.”

Looking ahead, Sharma listed three key areas the startup intends to focus on.

First, Health Wizz wants to make its tools easy to use and therefore attractive to consumers. The second step, which the company has already started, is normalizing the data so other people can access it. Finally, about a year down the road, the startup wants to have four or five pharma or clinical trial companies interacting with its consumers.

“If a few hundred end users are participating in clinical trials, that would be really what we would call success,” Sharma said.

Photo: nonchai, Getty Images



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