DATAx: How blockchain may revolutionize clinical trials

The second of our two-part series of discussions with Manoj Vig, DATAx New York festival speaker and head of the clinical data repository & clinical data lake at IQVIA, we delve into the possible benefits of blockchain technology integration in healthcare


Despite the hype, blockchain still has very few mainstream use cases. It is becoming easier for critics to balk at the technology as no more than just hype. However, it is important to remember the fundamental technology blockchain is based on is still as revolutionary as the day it first came out.

There are immense benefits to garner from a technology which can enable trust over digital platforms, especially to an industry such as healthcare. However, the biggest hurdle it faces is whether it will ever be trusted and mainstream enough to be adopted by such an inherently cautious industry.

Further exploring this idea with us is Manoj Vig, head of the clinical data repository and clinical data lake at IQVIA and speaker at this December's DATAx New York festival, in this the conclusory edition of our two-part series of discussions.

DATAx: Do you have any predictions on how blockchain may disrupt your industry in the coming years?

Manoj Vig: Blockchain is certainly the talk of the town right now and it is interesting to track how blockchain has evolved over the last few years. But, from a healthcare perspective, I think we still have miles to go with respect to using blockchain technology.

It is full of promise and if used the right way, along with other technologies that are currently available to us, it may seriously transform healthcare.

Specifically, I think blockchain will help contribute significantly toward enabling and facilitating healthcare research. I imagine systems designed on top of blockchain technology where copious amounts of patient data, clinical trial data (from both successful and failed trials) and health activity data, will all be streaming in from various devices and wearables and will all be stored under the ownership of individuals, organizations and physicians.

All this data can then be safely shared with various physicians, researchers and research organizations in both a secured and regulated way whereby it is still controlled by its original owner. This simple, collaborative task will open new avenues for medical research; it will allow more researchers to collaborate and share research markers and results with each other much faster than ever before.

I also imagine such a patient data repository would become a vital mechanism in helping increase the speed of medical record digitization, which can open up some powerful applications. These include faster and smarter clinical trials, patient identification, more effective disease biomarker identification and the faster sharing of medical records. It will allow all the key actors within healthcare such as pharmaceutical firms, physicians, investigators and, most importantly, the healthcare consumers – patients – come together in a cohesive and integrated way when collaborating.

And that can change the game for everyone in great ways. Technology is here for us to use – we are only ever limited by our imagination.

DATAx: What are some interesting ways you've used collected data to better patient lives?

MV: As a clinical trial-focused business, we cannot use an individual patient's data for secondary purposes. Regulations do not allow us to do that and for good reason.

That being said, we are always looking for ways to make clinical trials faster, cheaper and safer for our patients by using aggregated, anonymous data. This aggregated data, when combined with historical trends and publicly available information, can reveal valuable insight that enables us to execute and monitor trials and trial participants proactively, identify trial sites better and faster and intercept potential adverse events in a timely fashion so that the appropriate action may be taken.

These steps collectively help make trials more cost-effective and safer. The can reduce the length of a trial and speed up the time-to-market curve for individual drugs.

DATAx: And finally, what will you be discussing at DATAx New York this week?

MV: I will be participating in a panel discussion focused on tackling the challenges of the skill gap and how to make organizations more data and cyber-aware. I will also be participating in a fireside chat and will be discussing different opportunities that exist today for organizations to foster partnerships and collaboration by sharing information.

Manoj Vig will be on a panel on Day Two of the AI & Big Data for Pharma Summit, part of DATAx New York, taking place on December 12–13 at the Hilton Midtown. To attend and hear more great insights from other data experts from some of the biggest and most influential organizations, register here today before it's too late.

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