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Empowering patients: creating a healthcare data Blockchain network

Conciliating Blockchain GDPR

Alongside my primary role as a Project Manager, I have since 2016 been the Roche lead for the IMI industry collaboration called EHR4CR. EHR4CR is a group of roughly 10 pharma companies, universities, and SMEs working together to leverage the great wealth of information from hospitals in order to support our clinical trials and promote innovative research. It was a 7-year $16 million project.

During this project, I have met a lot of people involved in precision medicine and real-world data, and other promising areas of development regarding healthcare data. I believe that there is a need for what I will propose at the Congress: a vendor/pharma independent, open source, Blockchain network to ask patients for data or additional consents, link different anonymised datasets for more powerful advanced analytics, and empower patients to chose which of their data can be used in medical research. From my perspective, this is the missing foundation block for many promises around precision medicine.

I don’t usually do any work concerning Blockchain in my normal working life, and I’m not a Blockchain expert. The solution does not have to be Blockchain per se: if during this exercise we find something that is better and simpler, we will use that solution.

With that said, Blockchain currently offers the best way forward because it allows for a system which maintains a secure and protected link between patients and pharma, and a network of trust without centralisation.

From a technical perspective, I don’t think it would be difficult to use Blockchain in this way. The difficulty is in creating a consortium. This has to be done as a group, which is why I am looking forward to speaking at the congress. If driven only by Roche this tool will never get full adoption.

There’s a proverb which says, “If you want to go quick, go alone, and if you want to go far, go together.”

We need industry collaboration. Perhaps this means creating or partnering with others within the context of IMI projects, finding partner universities and doing the software development in open source collaboration.

Ultimately, neither Roche nor any other company will own the solution. It should be given to the community. This is why we want to start collaborating from the very beginning.


Benoit Marchal is Senior IT Project Manager specialising in Health IT at Roche. We are looking forward to hearing him present at CybSec and Blockchain Health.


At CybSec and Blockchain Health hear experts from international healthcare organisations, academia and companies at the leading edge of technological solutions. See who will be presenting by downloading the agenda.

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