Why Blockchain and Women Will Save Us

This post was guest authored by Shefali Srinivas, Vice President, Health Lead, Asia Pacific at WE Communications. It originally appeared on LinkedIn.

SGInnovate and ACCESS Health International brought a truly fantastic group of people together to talk blockchain in healthcare earlier this week. I had a mortifying moment at the start of our discussion; I forgot what I wanted to say. Let’s just say I had blockbrain. Lesly Goh (Financial Services Industry Lead, Microsoft Asia Pacific) rescued me so gracefully, picking up my train of thought and validating the quote I eventually remembered: “AI and climate change may ruin us, but blockchain and women will save us.”

Lesly talked about permissioned blockchain, the area that is most promising for healthcare enterprises. “We need to focus on interoperability and commitment to an open source standard,” she said.

Zia Zaman (Chief Innovation Officer, MetLife Asia) said blockchain technology could make insurance more inclusive by providing different ways to extend cover to more people or cover more diverse risk pools. The hope is to reduce costs and complexity and make it simpler for people to buy insurance products at the point of care. “About as much friction as it takes to get a drink out of a vending machine,” he said.

Dr Marcus Tan (senior resident at NUH) said blockchain could be the answer to the problem of patient data that is stuck in various institutional silos. “In the blockchain model, we can give patients back the ownership of their data. Data that is reliable, immutable, and trusted.” In Singapore, the first implementations of blockchain will probably be targeted at electronic medical records.

We had an hour-long discussion with a very engaged audience and questions ranged from privacy concerns to use cases. Judging by the audience interest, we could easily have gone on for another hour.

Zia’s reminder stood out: no matter what the enterprise is, we need to think of all technology from the perspective of the end user. “It’s not about the technology itself – it is about the problems you can solve uniquely and differently for the customer. So we need to think about how deep tech impacts the industry’s customers – Does it reduce friction? Does it increase security? Does it provide other types of benefit?”

These are the questions to ask in order to keep this conversation going well into 2018. A big thank you to everyone on the panel, the organisers, and our very encouraging audience.

(Ps: You can access the full video here.)