Category Archives: CDC

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Walmart Go Green with Blockchain-Based Produce Tracking

Walmart is flexing its DLT muscles after announcing it wants fresh produce suppliers to utilize a farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain technology.

The company has given 100 of its suppliers fair warning that fresh produce will need to be tracked using the system developed by IBM during the next year.

Both Walmart and IBM have been at the forefront of DLT since its conception and both companies are eager to promote the use of the new technology in sectors including business and commerce. Walmart has become a primary mover in the industry in pushing blockchain forward with numerous patents pending.

Walmart filed for two more blockchain technology patents in April, one for secure payments and another for digital shopping systems. In March, it filed for a “Smart Package” blockchain patent allowing tracking of contents and environmental conditions from point of origin to delivery. That patent states that Walmart technology will record the “key addresses” along the chain and will be used with robotic delivery methods like autonomous vehicles and drones.

The multinational’s latest patent is for a smart device that, when paired with a computing system, would receive a transaction request which, once accepted, transmits a configuration instruction for the appliance to be operated by the user via one or more nodes in the network needed for validation. The patent application details how the technology could be utilized in creating an entire smart home system, including control over energy and healthcare environments.

Of the latest move to track green produce from farm to supermarket shelf, vice president of food safety Frank Yiannas cited a conventional trial using mangoes as the shipment model, commenting, “It took them nearly seven days, as the methods of tracking today are antiquated — sometimes done with pencil and paper.” Walmart maintains that with blockchain technology, that same process will take just 2.2 seconds.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consulted with Walmart over the question of product traceability due to an increase of foodborne illnesses, such as an E.coli outbreak that occurred this year affecting 200 people who needed to be hospitalized.

 

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Tech Giants Take on Opioid Addiction with DLT

IBM has announced that it is now planning to use a blockchain-enabled health surveillance system in order to collect data on antibiotics and opioids prescriptions by doctors.

Opioid prescription abuse is becoming a problem worldwide with figures showing that their illicit use has now overtaken heroin. Globally, prescription opioid pain relievers are now among the most commonly misused and abused medicines.

IBM’s blockchain system is now making it easy for public health agencies to track both medical practitioners and their patients in order to try and stem this new epidemic of drug misuse. The healthcare industry is seeing several attempts at developing secure digital platforms for the exchange of patient data, believing that blockchain-based solutions may have the potential to vastly improve current data sharing systems in national hospitals.

Healthcare and clinical research is an expanding area as doctors and hospitals increasingly need secure access to a patient’s entire health history. This new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.

The implications for the industry are endless. New platforms are emerging almost daily such as a diagnostic blockchain infrastructure aimed to host, train and use artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and a blockchain-powered platform designed to track and protect pharmaceutical data.

Prominent healthcare professionals are also growing increasingly confident that DLT has what is required to vastly improve the security of current centralized forms of data storage, which have been vulnerable to hackers attempting to steal patient data for sale on the black market.

IBM has, for some time now, been looking at applying blockchain solutions to the healthcare industry through its work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the end of last year, its chief science officer Shahram Ebadollahi acknowledged how relevant blockchain and AI was becoming in the industry.

“Blockchain is very useful when there are so many actors in the system… It enables the ecosystem of data in healthcare to have more fluidity, and AI allows us to extract insights from the data. Everybody talks about big data in healthcare but I think the more important thing is long data.”

Since then, CDC has run several pilots and is urging the healthcare community to take up the mantle. Another computer giant, Intel, has done exactly that, working with McKesson and Johnson and Johnson to use DLT to trace the pill supply chain. Intel’s Director of healthcare privacy and security commented that the tech could “vastly reduce the opioid epidemic” adding, “I would not say this will eliminate the opioid problem, but this will help.”

Another player in the healthcare space, the leader in blockchain healthcare solutions, Hashed Heath, maintains that blockchain’s most significant asset apart from the obvious tracking advantages, is that a “decentralized database of test results with free access to this data” prevents global duplication and enhances research by others moving forward.

 

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