From Sharing to Selling

Challenges and Opportunities of Establishing a Digital Health Data Marketplace Using Blockchain Technologies

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed how sharing of biological and biomedical data have facilitated the researchers, medical practitioners and policymakers to tackle the pandemic at a global scale. Despite the growing use of EHR by medical practitioners and wearable digital gadgets by individuals, 80% of the health and medical data remain unused, adding little value to the researchers and medical practitioners. Legislative constraints related to health data sharing, centralised siloed design of traditional data management systems and most importantly, lack of incentivisation models are thought to be the underpinning bottlenecks for sharing health data.

With the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU and the development of technologies like blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT), it is now possible to create a new paradigm of data sharing by changing the incentivisation model from current authoritative or altruistic form to a shared economic model where financial incentivisation will be the main driver for data sharing. This can be achieved by setting up a digital health data marketplace (DHDM).

Here we reviewed papers that proposed technical models or implemented frameworks that use blockchain-like technologies for health data. We seek to understand and compare different technical challenges associated with implementing and optimising the DHDM operation outlined in these papers. We also examined the legal limitations in the context of European Union and other countries such as the USA to accommodate any compliance requirement for such a marketplace. Last but not least, we reviewed papers that investigated the short, medium and long terms socioeconomic impact of such a marketplace on a wide range of stakeholders.

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