IBM Canada Announces Plans to Bring Blockchain to Clinical Trials

Blockchain technology can be used for all sorts of things—automating security settlements, creating a better credit scoring system, and even buying musical rights.

Boehringer Ingelheim Canada and IBM Canada have their own ideas. The two are partnering to explore how blockchain can be used when it comes to clinical trials, specifically improving their quality and ensuring all the trials do not have errors in them or are incomplete. Problems like those can put patients at risk and increase the risk of interpretability when it comes to understanding trial results. This is a partnership between two Canadian subsidiaries of large comapnies—Boehringer Ingelheim is based in Germany while IBM is in New York.

“Our guiding philosophy is to bring value to patients and the healthcare system through innovation,” said Dr. Uli Brödl, VP of medical and regulatory affairs at Boehringer Ingelheim Canada. “The clinical trial ecosystem is highly complex as it involves different stakeholders, resulting in limited trust, transparency and process inefficiencies without true patient empowerment. Patients are at the heart of everything we do, so we are looking into novel solutions to improve patient safety and empowerment.”

IBM Canada will work to create a decentralized framework and enable data integrity, provenance, transparency, and patient empowerment within the clinical trials ecosystem. Blockchain will also allow certain processes to be automated, creating a quicker turnaround for a cycle that often takes months or years to finish.

“IBM is excited to collaborate with Boehringer Ingelheim to explore how blockchain technology could help improve the quality of clinical trials,” said Claude Guay, a GM at IBM Canada. “We’ve been using blockchain in other industries, and we are now investigating how we can use this technology to give Canadian patients the same level of security and trust when it comes to their personal health information.”

Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the largest global pharmaceutical industries, and the Canadian headquarters is located in Burlington with around 600 total employees.

IBM is not a stranger to the blockchain world_at one point, they wanted to try and regulate B.C.’s legal cannabis market with blockchain. On the medtech side of things, IBM recently created a blockchain-powered network with U.S. insurance giant Aetna to better manage the health care industry.