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New Firm Speeds The Pace Of Medical Breakthroughs With Blockchain

Blockchain is entering the world of healthcare data management, no longer just an 'underground financial technology.'

A Tel Aviv-based medical company is revolutionizing the healthcare industry by using blockchain technology to securely distribute standardized healthcare data. Briya, founded in 2020, could drive the next cycle of medical innovation, according to leaders at the firm.

The venture capital world has taken notice. Briya emerged from stealth mode in April with a reported $5.5 million in seed funding from venture capital firm Amiti Ventures, software investor Insight Partners, and medical device investor Innocare Health Investments.

Many healthcare professionals have detailed the languid pace at which data is shared between practices, hospitals, and researchers pioneering treatments. And yet, platforms that bring real-time data to medical professionals do not exist in healthcare systems. Many hospitals and universities use dated systems to aggregate and analyze healthcare data.

Briya executives say that decentralizing this process is the key to making data sharing faster and more secure. “The main concept of blockchain is to ensure trust in the decentralized world,” said Guy Tish, co-founder and chief technology officer at Briya.

“For decades, two organizations that wanted to exchange something would use a third-party organization such as a bank or government to make the transaction. Briya deals with sensitive data peer-to-peer, without a middleman, to dramatically minimize the potential for any kind of attack,” Tish said.

Guy Tish, co-founder and chief technology officer at Briya. (Courtesy of Brian Fishbach)

This application of blockchain technology to the healthcare space could significantly improve access to data, according to Briya co-founder and CEO David Lazerson. Health records are difficult to access for global populations or even patients outside of a hospital’s system. And since the systems themselves are not standardized, Lazerson said, it makes it increasingly difficult to share data securely.

“Companies have started to store data in the cloud—no matter the kind of data—because data is power,” said Lazerson. “While this approach works for most industries, it is unacceptable in the medical industry, and especially for patient data, as the cloud creates an abundance of privacy concerns.”

Typically, healthcare data is stored in the cloud or passed through a server before a researcher gains access to the data themselves. This method of data exchange ends in the same result—relevant data sets—but is neither private nor secure.

The path to future medical breakthroughs is in healthcare data, where Lazerson sees huge potential in using blockchain to accelerate time-to-medicine.

Unlike existing methods, blockchain is able to provide maximum privacy and security on both ends of the data exchange. Decentralized architecture offers secure, live data in an approach focused on patient privacy.

“Blockchain has been an enterprise-ready technology for decades. The core capabilities never changed, but financial applications hugely increased its popularity in the past few years,” Lazerson said.

David Lazerson, co-founder and CEO of Briya. (Courtesy of Brian Fishbach)

“[Blockchain] was branded as ‘an underground financial technology’ that kept enterprises far away. We believe that taking an institutional approach to blockchain will highlight its advantages and bring Briya to decision-makers in the healthcare industry,” Lazerson said.

There are some compelling trends in blockchain gaining popularity outside of finance, according to Ruth Levi Lotan, a blockchain expert and advisor for Briya.

“Enterprises are opening up to payments in crypto use [decentralized finance] and are thus more inclined to learn about the underlying technologies and enabled applications,” Lotan said. “Scalability and privacy solutions allow a new wave of possibilities for enterprises to utilize blockchains.”

Lotan said that new trends in governance frameworks could allow for innovative cooperation. A lot of this confidence, she said, comes from security and immutability. Potential leaks of sensitive information are all too prevalent in systems that store personal data, so thus inconsistent and manual enforcement of standards. Protecting medical data is necessary not only for individual privacy, but also for hospital compliance.

Ruth Levi Lotan, advisor to Briya. (Courtesy of Brian Fishbach)

Blockchain technology may hold the key to security on both sides. The nature of Briya’s data exchange platform can ensure HIPAA compliance to focus on patient privacy, Lotan said.

Lazerson is optimistic about the platform’s ability to provide secure data to medical professionals. An algorithm similar to a fraud detection one blocks any attempt to violate privacy regulations. Briya can validate data through blockchain, then securely make that data available around the world at lightning speed.

Scientists can examine real-time data to keep up with the evolution of COVID-19 and possibly snuff out novel viruses before they spread. Live data is crucial in making progress to solve any ailment without a cure, from cancer to viruses to autoimmune diseases.

Secure, easily accessible data can help doctors and researchers find state-of-the-art treatments to heal patients. When shared the right way, data is a force with the potential to disrupt the medical field.

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