There is tremendous interest and opportunity to apply blockchain technologies to problems in biology, medicine and health. At HD2i we are following this trend closely, but it has been hard to keep up with the pace of new project announcements! That is why we are publicly releasing our internal database of biomedical initiatives built on blockchain technology; as a resource for the biomedical blockchain community to map the landscape of tools and use cases.

One of the challenges we face in making this resource useful is the development of a scalable approach to evaluating the status of a project. The skyrocketing valuations of cryptocurrencies over the last 12 months has lead to the opportunistic launch of many projects that were not created in good faith.

While there are many familiar healthcare giants exploring blockchain applications, we have also seen an explosion of new healthcare blockchain companies that have raised millions from Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in the span of just a few months. This gives rise to the question of whether these new companies have the technical expertise and ability to effectively implement the solutions they propose.

Traditionally, one could crudely evaluate new companies from their valuation as a company, as the amount raised is typically associated with the vetting of professional investors. However, with the popularity of the ICO as a method of quickly crowdfunding a raise, the amount raised is not necessarily publicly available and could even dramatically change based on fluctuation in cryptocurrency pricing. Similarly, these companies raising funds via ICO are no longer vetted by professional investors, making it even more difficult to determine their merit simply on their self-reported valuation alone.

Evaluation Metrics

Therefore, we have summarized each initiative in our database using the following simple metrics that have proved helpful in quickly assessing the status of a blockchain project:

  • Source Code: Since it would be difficult to objectively review the code base of so many companies, we have instead simply reviewed and identified whether or not each company /project has a publicly available and non-trivial codebase on GitHub. In this context, we define trivial as white-papers, road maps, tokens creation /sales (ICO), or forks with no additional work or changes. In our opinion, this is important as it provides a “proof-of-work”, if you will, that the company /project is working towards their goal and is making progress.
  • Demo: Does it have a public demo or working product. We did not consider private betas, though many of the companies may have them.
  • Technical Specifications: Nearly every project that mentions blockchain, has a “white paper”. While a generalized white paper may be useful for many applications, such as marketing or explaining the project to a non-technical audience, here we consider whether the project has a technical white paper that describes the implementation details of their approach.
  • Category: We divided up the projects and companies into two overarching categories: Directly Health Related, which are projects who are directly related to healthcare, and Applicable to Healthcare which are those that are not directly trying to solve issues in healthcare, but who’s solutions have applications in healthcare.
    • The Directly Health Related is subdivided further into the following:
      • Patient Data Management
      • Payments, Claims & Other Services
      • Digital medicine (clinical decision support, diagnostics, telemedicine)
      • Supply Chain
      • Marketplace
      • Interoperability
      • Advisory/Consortium
      • Research and Clinical Trials
  • Location: Each country/region have unique healthcare systems and each may have their own issues of which blockchain could address. We also felt that this would be an interesting metric to keep track of in terms of identifying locations with a high density of healthcare blockchain companies.
  • Professional Investment (M): While not all companies have raised money from professional investors, we thought it important to take into consideration the ones that have. This is because many that have raised money traditionally may be less inclined to publicly provide their code, demo, or technical specifications. The amount listed is in USD in Millions.

Our List

Our repository is built on the excellent work of others that have undertaken similar endeavors:

Our primary contribution is the evaluation framework described above, which is helpful if you are looking to quickly evaluate the status of a projects. With the inclusion of all biomedical initiatives, we also have a slightly broader scope than the existing lists which are exclusively focused on healthcare.

Biomedical Blockchain Initiatives (GitHub - HD2i/biomedical-blockchain)

Caveats

One unfortunate downside about the metrics we use is that they completely rely on what these projects have made public. They do not account for any private code repositories, private technical white papers, or private betas.

It should also be noted that while this list and summary metrics were created in our best effort, we may have missed some of the public code, demos, or technical specifications. Since this space is rapidly changing and progressing, it is also possible and very likely that the information portrayed in this list is constantly updating and changing and this list may not necessarily reflect those changes.

We highly encourage representatives from the featured projects to contribute to this repository to keep it up to date and accurate!