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Blockchain clinical data firm Triall has partnered with the Mayo Clinic for a study on pulmonary arterial hypertension. The trial of the company’s eClinical platform will include over 500 patients and ten research sites across the United States.
Triall described the collaboration as “an important next step towards leading a global transformation towards decentralized clinical research.” The aim is to collect data from various sources in the study and record the results on-chain as a demonstration of Triall’s Verifiable Proof API and its role in creating auditable medical trails that may be accessed in the future by regulators, investigators, monitors, and other stakeholders.
Triall also launched the Ethereum-based token TRL in September 2021, following a crowdfunding campaign. TRL functions as a platform-native means of payment for software and services within the Triall ecosystem.
The announcement highlights how useful blockchain technology can be in processing and timestamping immutable data records to benefit areas like public health. While blockchains can preserve data integrity and automate the collection of data in one place from numerous sources, some issues remain. Triall itself lists “scalability” as one potential problem for projects with extensive data records to process. There are also issues with cost (e.g., per-transaction fees).
Triall does not highlight exactly which blockchain it uses, though it goes into some detail on its information pages regarding the benefits of applying “blockchain technology” in general. These include the familiar advantages of immutability, decentralization, cryptographically-protected security, and non-reliance on trusted third parties.
However, it quotes Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin when describing decentralized architectures. Both FAQs and blog posts highlight the oft-repeated false energy consumption concern over Bitcoin’s proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm. Since the TRL token lives on the Ethereum network, the rest of Triall’s blockchain ecosystem will likely exist on Ethereum as well.
It mentions that data on Triall’s secure cloud is encrypted “using healthcare-industry standard 256-bit SSL and 2048-bit RSA public keys,” with its data centers hosted in “SOC-certified and fully redundant AWS facilities” with primary servers hosted in the U.S. and Europe.
“Contrary to popular belief, not all blockchains depend on highly energy-intensive consensus algorithms,” it says.
The BSV blockchain has, for several years now, proved that scalability can co-exist with cost-effectiveness and that PoW is a far more solid economic model for block processors to guarantee data integrity. Though much has been said about Proof-of-Work’s energy consumption, the truth is that a blockchain secured by PoW becomes more energy-efficient with more users. Therefore, BSV has become not only one of the most scalable blockchain networks, but potentially the “greenest” of its type.
All these factors are important when considering personal healthcare and clinical research data. It’s a field where data integrity can literally be a matter of life and death—including data sources, records changes, and future availability. For personal healthcare records, information must be both readily available and private, where patients retain ownership over their own personal records and have the right to allow/disallow access.
— Synerio (@HelloSynerio) March 22, 2022
BSV project EHR Data (now known as Synerio) has explored different options for using blockchain technology in healthcare records for several years now. President Steve Lawrence has said that “the BSV blockchain is critical because of the size of healthcare data,” which includes six billion scripts last year in the United States alone, and also when preserving patients’ data ownership and control.
With these examples, it’s easy to see why the blockchain scalability issue Triall describes may be a core concern for it and other future projects. Data integrity means the ability to preserve records far into the future, which becomes less possible on a chain with scalability problems or a basic protocol that’s subject to changes or contentious forks—such as Ethereum.
Watch: CoinGeek Zurich panel, Health Care & Blockchain: Empowering Patient Data
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