Despite the widely recognized importance of data the current paradigm is fundamentally broken. We are the object, not the subject, of our data. We generate unfathomable amounts of data, have very little autonomy over it, and almost never see any returns from it. Companies built on data, like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, boast a collective market value in the trillions of dollars and profits of billions of dollars. Data is frequently compared to oil — generally referring to its ability to act as the fuel for AI. Scholars speculate that data might be so important as to reinvent capitalism itself.
In healthcare pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to get access to this powerful fuel to help create the next generation of scientific studies. In contrast to randomized clinical trials, new studies are using real world data, like electronic health records, wearables, and social media data, to validate their claims as well as uncover hidden insights. All major drug companies have departments focused on this and Roche went so far as to acquire a company focused on real world data for $1.9 billion dollars.
Moreover, healthcare providers are seeking real world data to gain an edge in care delivery and policy makers have explored its usage for public health. It is safe to assume that if we build ways for people to sell their health data, companies and researchers will come in droves. Data marketplaces see this opportunity and are acting accordingly. As the usage of real world data gains traction, AIs become embed into our healthcare systems, and more people take control of their health data, these data markets will become liquid and that’s when this gets really interesting.
Your health data will become an asset, and just like any other asset, it will get bought, repacked, shaped, and twisted into other forms by enterprising financiers. What’s more, blockchains and cryptocurrencies will enable this to take place.
If your health data generates a stream of income, why shouldn’t you be able to use it as collateral for a loan? Thanks to the Dharma Protocol this will be done with smart contracts on-chains. Moreover, Augur could be used create synthetic markets to give outside investors exposure to these assets. In their own words, Augur “allows users to trustlessly create prediction markets on the outcome of any future event.” A prediction market could be made for the price of a specific health data asset and outcome tokens representing letting you buy or sell that outcome are generated. By using the 0x protocol, people will seamlessly trade the corresponding outcome tokens.
As prediction markets for health data proliferate we can take things a step even further. The Set Protocol could be used to bundle together a number of the outcome tokens generated from Augur. If we focus on one domain and diversify into a number of prediction markets, we can create synthetic index funds that give broad exposure into that domain. For example, you could buy up prediction market tokens going long on the prices of data of those diagnosed with 15 different types of rare cancer. Taken together, and although it would be a crude instrument, you would have created a synthetic rare cancer data index fund. Now that is cool. This wouldn’t be just for show either, funds like this one would provide a valuable signal to help the market figure out where capital should invested.
While we’re at it, let’s use the dYdX protocol to create options and hedge our risk. The possibilities are endless and that’s the point. I wrote this piece in part to demonstrate the huge range of possibilities that are being unlocked by the innovations we are witnessing unfold. Cryptocurrency represents nothing short of a technological revolution and we have barely, just barely, scratched the surface of what is becoming possible today. Synthetic rare cancer data index funds are just one of the many strange innovations that are to come. Cryptocurrencies will change healthcare and the world as we know it.
So let’s get to work and make it happen.
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