Fashion Builds Trust with Blockchain

Fashion

The gig economy and millennial are placing experience over just customer service and rewards over loyalty. The expectations are steep rising when it comes to the Apparel and Footwear as the industry leaders are elevating to overall fashion management. Combined with richer experience expectations, consumers are demanding more awareness with granular traceability and sustainability attempting to drive deeper to know more about apparels they buy, including the story behind each garment and how and where they are manufactured. It is high time for fashion brands to prove their trustworthiness necessitating complete transparency across the value chain on ethical sourcing and sustainability. It is more important in current times where many apparel companies lack ethical supply chains, and ~10% of global emissions are produced by the fashion industry alone.

The blockchain beyond cryptocurrencies offers a decentralized structure that provides immutability, transparency, and security making data trustworthy and scalability.  Blockchain technology has the potential to enable creating a fair, safe and more transparent fashion industry.  In this blog post, I will try to articulate how blockchain can bring added value to transforming business model and culture of the apparel industry from a supply chain that prizes consumption to a demand chain that takes pride in sustainability.

By leveraging Blockchain, fashion companies can offer greater transparency in supply chains creating new incentives for companies to change the way they do business and showcase their organizations. As shown in the diagram above, Blockchain helps create a peer-to-peer and decentralized network that connects all stakeholders in the value chain (design houses, farmers, raw material suppliers, manufacturers, transporters, distributors, retail outlets, banks, consumers and other parties of the complete supply chain). Using a decentralized system, all communication between these stakeholders will be direct and will not pass through a specific central entity. Due to its decentralized nature, the blockchain platform will not have any single point of failure and will not rely on any single entity.

The blockchain has demonstrated fashion supply chain transformation improving track-and-trace and inventory management thus far. By a further confluence of Blockchain, 3D printing and AI/ML technologies, the fashion industry may very well see much more dramatic improvements. Blockchain technology empowering fashion business with uniform real-time access to updated product information supplied by brands, a universal pathway for retailers to immediately report back to suppliers on aspects like stock levels and customer feedback, and has potential to add further on to this new building block structure.

Summarizing below how Blockchain technology further augments fashion value chain capabilities that help to deliver better outcomes.

Fashion Value Chain Capability Building with Blockchain:

Blockchain technology can provide consumers visibility into the entire fashion lifecycle of a garment, including materials and vendors used, the labor sources, and even the production, shipping and warehouse locations involved. Everyone from the farmer to the textile mill to the garment factory can communicate directly with the brand that buys from them. As well, consumers can interact directly with the brand/design house for co-creation or customization of the garments, influencing pricing and even co-investing in the concept. I can all out the following to articulate how Blockchain is augmenting fashion industry capabilities,

  • Create new levels of trust among Suppliers, Brands, and Customers
  • Design better PRODUCT, Offer improved SERVICE and Tell a unique STORY
  • Transform Apparel companies to Fashion Conglomerates

Delivering Better Outcomes with Fashion Blockchain:

Global companies like Patagonia and Everlane have been successfully betting on sustainability and supply chain transparency as a distinct selling proposition enabling customers to identify their suppliers. How Blockchain is delivering better fashion outcomes is summarized below.

  1. Enabling sustainability and circular economy: Blockchain is boosting fair trade practices offering consumers’ increasingly demanding transparency and allowing them to know where the fashion product is coming from.
  2. Better Traceability and Transparency: Blockchain enables fashion companies to communicate with the customers the complete product story (DNA) for each and every fashion garment. This includes comprehensive details on all stages of product life cycle starting from design inspiration, raw materials, manufacturing and distribution to the stores and also providing visibility of all stakeholders involved in the value chain to create traceability and transparency in true sense.
  3. Improved Experience & Goodwill: Blockchain applications allow customers to scan the tag and discover the history of every garment and thus help in improving the customer buying experience. Blockchain applications also can help fashion companies who license their trademarks or designs in tracking the sales and working out the royalty payments. As well, it enables design houses to document process steps and thus having the organic evidence of ownership on the designs.
  4. Brand Authenticity:  Fashion products can be verified by both retailers and consumers since branded garments pass through the blockchain steps and hence can be tracked. This could help to reduce the counterfeiting and diverting out of authentic products. Every time a fashion item moves from one place to other, its tag or code gets scanned thus recording its location with the time stamp. Consumers would be able to scan the item and trace its journey from raw material stage to their home and would be able to ascertain if the product is real or a counterfeit. Blockchain applications can help provide protection against the counterfeiting.

Fashion Blockchain Use Cases:

Blockchain is creating enough traction in the Fashion industry and successful use cases are increasing day by day. Here are few use cases of interest,

  • VeChain solution to tackle the fraud and ensure anti-counterfeiting of fashion products.  It provides a company’s product with a QR code or smart chip with its own unique ID. The company embeds the code, or chip, in its products, scans it, and stores it on the blockchain. The company can then track the product along with each phase of its life cycle: from its creation to the consumer. The blockchain is tamper proof. Consumers will know when they purchase that they are purchasing the original, authentic product.
  • Fashion Coin (FSHN) is a peer-2-peer version of electronic cash for Generation Z. Based on creativity, game theory and steganography+cryptography, Fashion Coin provides seamless and effortless online payments  – with maximum speed and limitless scale.
  • LUKSO is an open blockchain ecosystem specifically created for the fashion and lifestyle industry, providing a decentralized innovation and trust infrastructure for fashion brands, start-ups, and customers. The LUKSO architecture encourages its users to design and deploy an infinite number of innovative features for the modern fashion system: it opens up digital wardrobes and sharing economies, secures IP rights and authenticity, enables omnichannel communications and novel ways of funding collections.
  • faizod is currently paving the way in this area, working together with a logistics company to pioneer a prototype of such a Blockchain-based tracking system. The prototype pairs Blockchain with radio frequency identification (RFID), which uses radio waves to transmit information to a reader.
  • Provenance is increasing the transparency in the fashion supply chain by tracking the journey of raw material through the supply chain, this collaboration between fashion designer Martine Jarlgaard and Provenance highlights the role of blockchain technology in increasing transparency and substantiating claims in the fashion industry.

Given all the advantages, blockchain clearly seems to be the future for fashion, however, to speed up the application, a single and comprehensive blockchain standard adopted by the fashion industry has to come in fast.

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Life Reimagined with Seamless Travel Experience

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Reimagining life in every aspect and bouncing ideas that create better experiences is the motto of this blog page. As per the AARP research in 2018, 57% of leisure travelers like to spend time with family and friends, 49% want to relax and rejuvenate, and 47% try to get away from routine stressed life. But the real-life experience of travelers is just the opposite of these expectations. Solutions that offer seamless travel experiences is the need of the day for better leisure outcomes. The ideal travel experience of current generation passengers would include:

  • Real-time journey information delivered to their personal devices
  • Biometric identification to facilitate their travel processes
  • Automation of more airport processes
  • Wait times of less than 10 minutes at security/immigration
  • Bags tracked throughout their journey
  • A human touch when things go wrong

What if a passenger arriving at security and immigration checkpoints has been previously vetted at check-in allowing a seamless, contactless process where the passenger simply needs to look at a smart camera to be cleared and allowed passage? Offering universal travel pass integrating cross-border security checks, hotel check-ins and entire travel life cycle tied with digital identity should be the new mantra of the travel industry.

Such universal travel passes will create a newfound demand for travel consultants to be more integrated with various service providers, making it a lucrative profession. Each traveler will be assigned a passenger record name/record locator so that all the services they opt for will be availed and kept secure, and the travel consultants will be the integral component of providing this.

Seamless universal travel experience is a great value to the travelers. And such a seamless travel experience is becoming a reality with new digital technologies. These technologies can enable travel agencies to transform into ‘digital travel agents’, enabling the booking process to become a trip planning experience, where agents will be able to provide more content, information and booking details. The congruence of technologies like IoT, Cloud, AI, Voice-Enabled Devices, Blockchain, and 5G has the potential to offer better experiences to travelers. As tourism continues to grow and route availability continues to shrink, airports are turning to seamless travel initiatives to help passengers stay on the move and increase their satisfaction.

The dominant technologies enabling seamless universal travel experience include,

  • Internet of Things: IoT can create a seamless trip where travelers are connected to their travel agents at every stage. IoT has the ability to connect customers with travel consultation throughout the entire lifecycle of the travel experience. For agents, a global or universal passenger record can allow travel consulting to change according to any requests from the customer. As for travelers, agents can provide a universal ‘travel pass’ that can be used for a trip, without separate boarding passes, hotel check-in, bus passes, and even theme park tickets. This universal travel pass would also handle multiple currencies, where travelers won’t need to worry about exchanging currencies when traveling between different countries.
  • Cloud – Improves the collaboration with travelers for a more personal experience transforming the offline model of the travel agent to have access to all cloud-based bookings regardless of location
  • AI and voice-enabled devices – AI has the potential to transform the inevitable hassles and inconvenience of airport travel into delightful passenger experiences. AI could enable travelers can leave their home with one single biometric identifier – and board a plane or cruise, check into their hotel, and hire a car with that unique identifier. Acuity Market Intelligence forecasts that the total number of airport biometric touchpoints – increasingly AI-enhanced facial recognition – at check-in, bag drop, security, and boarding gates will increase at a 27% CAGR from 2019 – 2022. Voice will be the future of booking travel. Travel agents are then able to take advantage of this and sell high value and high engagement products via voice
  • Blockchain – Blockchain technology could develop a ticket-booking solution that integrates multiple agencies – long-distance, regional,  and local agents, including Uber/Lyft car- or any other car-sharing firms. With a blockchain-based solution, travelers can book their travel with agents participating in the network with just a few clicks on a single website, without the need to switch across multiple sites and providers. The blockchain ledger can then record single customer purchase and even accurately can split the payment among the providers.
  • 5G network high speeds – 5G will give agents a better way to connect with travelers during their trips. If the traveler has a 5G connection, that allows the agent to be able to have a better video call with the traveler, without physically being there with them, assisting them along the way. 5G combining with VR/AR technologies offers a more engaging and immersive booking experience

Travel & Tourism sector should embrace the change creating a mass personalization contextualized to the travelers and leveraging ecosystem working with all stakeholders involved to maximize value leveraging biometrics and universal digital identity for truly seamless passenger experience.

Internet of Medical Things (IMoT)

imot

Many healthcare firms and consumers have latched onto the Internet of Medical Things (IMoT) by way of wearables, such as FitBits and Garmin watches, referred to as “FitTech.” With over 2/3 of medical devices estimated to be connected over the next 3 years, IMoT is going to have a significant impact in Healthcare operational and financial processes. Let us examine the impact of IMoT on healthcare payers, health providers, and consumers.

A) IMoT and Payers: 

i) Underwriting: The first process comes to mind is Underwriting. By equipping consumers with IoT-enabled medical devices underwriters can better understand what an individual’s health looks like daily, rather than at long historical intervals. With this wealth of information at the helm for an individual, underwriters gain access to health data from periods of time that used to be non-existent in health records and claims. IMoT can enable underwriting for

  • improved bottom-line of the payer by better understanding what each individual new member will cost them
  • increased wallet share by preventing lower-risk members from being improperly marked as high-risk based on one-off health encounters
  • Optimized underwriters’ time spent on due diligence, especially avoiding unnecessary full medical underwriting (FMU.)

ii) Preventive Care: Preventative care is a perfect application of IoMT. Biometric sensors and other devices can collect real-time data from health plan members, help point to higher-risk metrics or lifestyle choices, and notify payers to get the correct members enrolled in prevention programs. Oe successful use case is Beam Dental. The Beam Brush tracks an individual’s tooth brushing habits (such as the dental habits of employees under their employer’s insurance plan) and allows their good habits to drive down the cost of dental insurance for their group. By activating members to take control of their health before chronic or acute health issues arise, payers will see success in loss prevention as well as a happier (and healthier!) member base.

iii) Claims and billing efficiencies: IoT can aid in cumbersome tasks that waste administrative hours by leveraging AI led solutions, such as determining whether a claim should be accepted or rejected for minor claims or processing payments. By freeing up administrative time from these tasks that can be automated, payers can invest more in programming for their members to drive focus towards prevention leading to savings in administrative costs and savings in claims payments from healthier members.

B) IMoT and Providers:

IMoT has the potential to facilitate remote patient care to optimizing hospital operations to streamlining data management, healthcare providers can leverage the lucrative potential of IoT. These use cases are elaborated below.

i) Improved hospital operations: IMoT can be introduced and ramped up to optimize a hospital’s daily functions and cut unnecessary costs. Tracking medical assets within a facility is a good use case. Every year, millions of dollars bleed from hospitals from lost or stolen equipment. By attaching sensors (e.g., RFID or Bluetooth) to equipment, hospital staff can track the exact locations at any point in time, allowing for better oversight. This can solve the problem of lost equipment, reduce theft, and even track overall use of equipment. The life of medical equipment varies greatly based on the frequency of use. By tracking movement over the life of a piece of equipment, hospital administration can get a better idea of when to replace or schedule maintenance to avoid periods of time where equipment is unusable.

A second IMoT use case is in intake or discharge processes. With IoT, unobtrusive sensors can be placed in patient wristbands and staff badges better to track how quickly patients flow through different areas of the hospital (such as pre-op rooms to the operating room) or how efficiently staff attends to a given patient. This can remove backup from current bottlenecks in flow at the hospital, including but not limited to Emergency Department wait times, intake, discharge, and shift changes.

ii) Interoperability and Data Monetization: IMoT at a basic level improves existing systems for providers. For example, biometric devices and sensors are often system-agnostic and can connect through APIs to multitudes of EHR systems. If a patient has doctors in multiple health systems, their disparate EHRs (and therefore doctors and care plans) can be updated accordingly. The IMoT combined with AI/ML and NLP can nurture the massive loads of HC data. By relying on IoT-enabled technologies, providers will no longer deal with unusable, unstructured data but rather well-organized and insightful data systems. The world of well-managed data in hospitals and health systems opens up with the adoption of forward-thinking technology. Doctors can better tailor care plans to patients’ specific needs based on historical data of like patients and avoid oversight of potential complications such as contraindications.

iii) Expanding remote care revenue streams: IoMT eases the implementation of remote patient care. With IMoT doctors can help patients purchase and set up remote equipment to measure biometrics, provide care, and talk face-to-face over the internet i.e. telemedicine. Doctors then are able to receive the data they need to adequately modify care plans without requiring a patient to walk into the office as well as have more frequent communication and therefore a better understanding of a patient’s day-to-day health status. IoMT not only allows for better continuous care but also boosts patient satisfaction and engagement. Patients that spend more face time with their providers tend to have better relationships and therefore better patient satisfaction—a critical component of healthcare with more and more models shifting to value-based reimbursement from health payers.

IMoT implementation roadmap:

While the Internet of Medical Things has the potential to fuel HC growth, IMoT implementation sought to be a rocky path. But approaching IMOT implementations with a pragmatic approach leads to a better navigation path. Let us evaluate some basics steps of IMoT roadmap.

  • Identifying Healthcare organization business goals to build IMoR ecosystem
  • Develop a viable and convincing business case to roll-out IMoT
  • Next coming up with a clear vision and goals to realize with connecting medical devices
  • Big-Bang approach may lead to burn-out, and hence identify pilots or PoCs od IMoT success areas
  • Take an iterative approach to reiterate the ideation process and move forward with an implementation initiative

Sounds generic! That is the stepping stone for IMoT implementation. Imagine that healthcare companies manufacture more than half a million different types of medical devices, including wearable external medical devices like insulin pumps, blood glucose monitors, etc, implanted medical devices – implantable cardioverter defibrillator devices, and stationary medical devices – scanning machines, etc. to name a few. Most patient interactions with the HC system involve the use of medical equipment and devices. IMoT brings these interactions to life. Hence taking an incremental approach is the only way forward.

The true implementation of IMoT involves, “developing an in-depth understanding of end users”, “defining funding, business and operating models”, “clearly understand device interoperability requirements”, “embed security at the core”, “ensuring regulatory compliance”, “more importantly attract talent and build digital capabilities”, “improve the adoption of medical technology at scale and with trust”, and finally “create an ecosystem of seamless partnerships”.

IMoT Solution Providers:

Colleagues on this forum have highlighted many advantages of IMoT like cutting emergency room wait times, remote health monitoring, ensuring critical equipment availability, improved drug management, optimized staffing and workflow, better diagnoses, better outcomes with fewer false alarms, etc. As IMoT value proposition is gaining more traction, many solution providers are offering products and solution to tap this value.

With an estimated market value for IMoT technologies >$150 billion in over next 3 to 4 years, Philips, Siemens, GE Healthcare and Medtronic are currently leading IoMT technology investments, with Philips primarily dealing with cardiac monitoring, remote patient communication devices and sensor-related products, and GE and Medtronic instead focusing on cloud-based technologies in existing monitoring devices, implants, and cardiac pacemakers.. Listing below few examples.

  • IMoT and Telehealth: Health Net Connect offers various remote patient monitoring packages that monitor conditions like CHF, COPD, diabetes, and hypertension with devices like BP/BG monitors, Handheld ECGs, pulse oximeters and spirometers. Not only is this technology leading to reduced costs as patients handle everything in-house, but by eliminating the need to visit health professionals and vice versa, it’s also improving their overall patient experience.
  • IMoT and Drug Management: Proteus Discover is a health company that measures medication treatment effectiveness and helps physicians improve clinical outcomes and patients reach health goals through sensor-embedded pills like the one mentioned above. Once the ingestible sensor-containing pill reaches the stomach, it sends a signal to patch the patient is wearing, which monitors each time a pill is taken, as well as their general rest and activity patterns. another example is, Abilify MyCite approved by the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration
  • IMoT and Medical Device Monitoring: e-Alert from Philips are also ensuring that critical hardware is always accessible, and if something like a breakdown does happen, staff members will be immediately alerted.
  • Siemens IoT solutions for the medical device industry are powered by combining big data with digital twins, a virtual representation of actual devices, moving in tandem across the lifecycle and connected by digital threads. By connecting virtual development and production planning environments with real support and lifecycle production data, Siemens equipping med-tech organizations with the transparency and advanced analytic tools required to gain a competitive edge using big data.
  • eVisit is a telemedicine platform that enables doctors to conduct examinations and prescribe remedies for their patients by remote.
  • Amiko.IO focuses on providing products for respiratory disease management, complete with an AI-powered platform.
  • InfoBionic’s MoMe Kardia provides remote monitoring of cardiac arrhythmia.
Challenges implementing Healthcare IoT / IMoT:

HC firms have to overcome a few key challenges ranging from data security to legacy infrastructure that may hinder health care IoT initiatives. Alongside these evident challenges, IMoT should address the following areas for widespread adoption.

  1. Health data explosion and sensitivities: HC is one the largest sector contributing to massive data creation. HC organizations to use IMoT technology effectively have to address growing data storage needs. As well HC has to be exceptionally careful to treat patient data from IoT devices according to federal and state regulations. The flood of data created by the IoT gadgets and devices used in the HC industry could also cause unforeseen problems if organizations are not equipped to handle it properly and verify its quality.
  2. Lack of EHR system integration. While the data that is collected from IMoT devices can include a patient’s vital signs, physical activity that information does not typically travel to an EHR system and, in most cases, is not centralized or made easily available to providers. This limits the information’s value since it is not always presented to the provider in a clinical context.
  3. An increase of available attack surfaces with IoT devices: IMoT devices explosion in health care present concerning vulnerabilities as device use rises, so does the number of ways hackers could infiltrate the system and mine for the most valuable data. Hackers could potentially learn about how a connected medical device operates by getting into the system and reading its error logs. The knowledge the hackers gain could facilitate breaking into a hospital network or making devices publish incorrect readings that influence patient care. It is high time for vendors, providers, and manufacturers’ to collaborate to reduce patient risks by closing the gaps that can form between the layers of an IMoT system by reinforcing standards and normalizing secure protocols. It’s not possible to know all the cybersecurity risks health organizations may face. Nonetheless, facilities planning to implement IoT technology must take care to increase awareness of existing threats and understand how to protect networks and gadgets from hackers’ efforts.
  4. IMoT data in silos due to interoperability challenges: Patients are likely to collect different sets of data when using different medical devices depending on each device’s purpose and, in some cases, the ordering physician. IMoT data alone may not be as meaningful if it is not within the context of a full health record. With the lack of wider adoption of adequate interoperability, data from different IMoT devices may remain locked in each individual system and lose its potential value to the rest of a patient’s care team.
  5. Data security causes concerns in the IMoT implementations: From the time that the data is collected at the device level to the point that it is transmitted over to its final destination, securing that information is critical and is required under HIPAA. But with the lack of common security standards and practices, many health IT professionals have concerns about the risks associated with IMoT device tampering and data breaches.
  6. Plan for ecosystem needs to be successful: According to a recent Cisco survey, ~60% of projects encounter trouble at the PoC stage or shortly thereafter. The study suggested that utilizing external partnerships (e.g. platforms) was a crucial factor for those organizations that achieved successful implementations. When it comes to the starting small and prioritizing projects that align with their most prominent business objectives or patient needs is key to the success.
  7. Overcoming legacy infrastructure challenges: Outdated infrastructure is a known fact in HC. Even though retrofitting can breathe new life into aging infrastructure, truly taking advantage of IoT is tricky if a facility’s infrastructure is outdated. Hence using IMoT in ways that make sense for the needs, budgets, and infrastructures of HC organization and having robust plan to ramping up resources to fill the gaps is the key to the success of IMoT implementations.
  8. Stringent high availability and near-zero tolerance for failure: One of the common use of IMoT technology in HC is to apply it to patient monitoring systems. While it is handy to take that approach, unlike other IT systems (ex: websites), these devices typically cannot go through planned periods of downtime. Hence, updates have to occur seamlessly as people use the monitoring devices. For the hospitals to depend on IMoT-enabled supply cabinets to track resources reducing inventory management issues, IMoT devices devices are to be audited correctly eliminating human errors.

AI in Healthcare

AI
Healthcare fueled by AI/ML/DL:
AI Use Cases in Healthcare:
Roadmap to Implement AI in HC
Commoditizing AI/ML in Healthcare:
AI/ML Impacts on HC. AI and machine learning are already delivering value in HC. The following are high impact areas.

Blockchain “Potential Value” in the Healthcare Industry

BC in HC

Visualize the Healthcare ecosystem comprising of patients, payers, providers, pharma/bio majors, and medical device companies. The Blockchain Technology combined with other relevant digital forces can augment the right set of capabilities in the Healthcare Ecosystem. The blockchain technology alongside Electronic Health Records, IMoT (Internet of Medical Things), Healthbots, AI/ML, Cloud and Analytics can create the capability foundation for the healthcare industry.  The blockchain bundled capability engine thereby enables the four drivers as described below.

  • Consumerization: Transforming from wholesale to retail healthcare. The patient or consumer now can expect the same experience in healthcare like in all other parts of their “consumer life.” Blockchain can enable a radical change in driving patients to take advantage of connected technologies, social tools, and information activities in their own health and that extends further into the broader marketplace.
  • Personalization: Healthcare industry has historically treated patients en masse. But the move from the group to the individual is inevitable now. Blockchain empowers health players to build loyal relationships with consumers offering more choices.
  • Diagnosis & treatments: Blockchain can create a single source of medical truth of patient that can’t be tampered making the doctors better at their jobs – quicker, more accurate, and fact-based expediting the quality of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Communications: Enabling doctor’s effective and easy communication with patients for improvising care coordination is another pertinent role of blockchain technology in healthcare.

The above drivers collectively are positioned to deliver the following outcomes to healthcare ecosystem.

  • Patients: Improved experience with better care coordination
  • Payers: Shift from B2B to B2B2C models
  • Providers/ISVs: Better usability enabling on-the-go services and health predictability

To better contextualize Blockchain Technology in Healthcare ecosystems, the relevance of technology for Patients, Payers, and Providers is discussed below.

I. Blockchain prominence for Patients:

Patients can benefit from improved experience from better health coordination. With blockchain technology, patient health records can be cryptographically secured and shared among healthcare stakeholders, increasing interoperability in the ecosystem. Use cases for blockchain are getting started with projects that reduce duplicative work but eventually shift to a system where the patient’s control access rights to their data. The following is one of the paths of evolution of blockchain in healthcare,

  • In short term it is more of a closed consortia, PoCs, managing providers information, bringing drug supply chain on the blockchain, but not really porting patient data on the blockchain.
  • In the medium term, systems can scale with permission of stakeholders and handle some patient data. Applications include claims management, payments, and prior authorization, health information exchange & research data, and trial design data etc.
  • But over a long term, a patient-driven blockchain system with master health records and access rights in the hands of patients is a definite possibility.

To design a robust blockchain solution, the architecture should store and scale voluminous transactions, urgent data, and more on a blockchain, while larger data storage needs could be met by private repositories. The bundled On-Chain and Off-Chain solutions can be built to solving both scalability and data sensitivity needs. A typical blockchain solution for healthcare patients’ data can be described as follows.

Data is generated about a patient, a doctor’s visit occurs etc. Transactions are recorded on a public, view-able blockchain, which also designates the location of the data. The data is stored “Off-chain” in private data repositories. Patients give a third-party access to their records via public/private keys. Data is located, decrypted, and retired from storage on-demand.

Blockchain could bring patients to the center of the healthcare ecosystem by giving them the power over one of their most valuable resources – data

II. Blockchain driven Improvements for Payers:

The blockchain is driving the transformation in Payers and/or Health Insurance space to reimagine business models progressing from BB to B2B2C channels. As per the analyst reports, 5 to 7% of claims are denied due to inaccurate or lack of information. Imagine blockchain technology offering an opportunity to automate the claim process and simplify the administrative processes to reduce transaction costs and minimizing frauds.

How Blockchain technology does this is by leveraging the consensus with smart contracts, maintaining a benefits database, determining patient insurance for self-execution with SOPs driving terms and conditions. This will potentially bring in a discipline of pay for outcomes and incentive-based behavioral health programs that offer peer-to-peer insurance models. Imagine a day where patients have a peer-reviewed and/or a peer-adjusted claims system.

III. Blockchain-based Collaboration for Providers:

Healthcare providers could be hospitals, medical device companies, pharma or bio majors and many more. Let us examine the following opportunities.

  • What if blockchain enables a multi-fold increase in medical device makers ability to bring their devices onto a medical IoT platform solving the current data privacy and security concerns? Blockchain can enforce medical device identity management by promoting IMoT and as well cryptography techniques can offer an additional layer of trust to minimize cybersecurity threats for medical devices. Blockchain also ensures patient privacy by proving secure and selective access to their health data.
  • Serialization and counterfeiting are few of critical issues pharma supply chain faces today. It is a multi-billion dollar problem to solve. Blockchain ability to create a chain-of-custody log of a pharma value chain can enable drug manufacturers to track each step of the supply chain at the source by raw martial or constituents and their origins. Blockchain also offers the technological feasibility to automate serialization process across the pharma supply chains

Blockchain technology has the potential to exponentially add value to the healthcare ecosystem offering significant cost savings, enforcing privacy and security, creating a chain of custody for pharma value chain, improving collaboration, and simplifying the claims processing.

I welcome further discussions on this topic via email kishor.akshinthala@gmail.com.

Refer to related blog posts below:

https://akshinthalakk.com/2018/02/10/counterfeit-combating-with-blockchain-technology-2/

Marching Ahead to 2019

2019

Here is my take on the next 3 big trends to watch out as we march ahead into 2019.

1) Automation crossing over inflection point: Point I am making is progressing beyond task automation. For example, when we call a Bank, it really doesn’t matter whether a bot or a human reply from creating the net new value and better customer experience point of view. In fact, speaking to human can avoid following initial mundane activities alongside a BOT. Having a BOT may save cost and make operations efficient for a Bank, but what’s in it for the customer? Secondly, Automation has to elevate to be more intelligent and process-centric than taskmasters. That is what the inflection point for automation progressing to “creating value for consumers”.

2) “Shared to Distributed” economy/business models as a path forward: Over the past years Uber, Airbnb, Google and increasingly proliferated shared economy models are been successful use cases that rely on the contributions of users/external resources as a means to generate value within their own platforms. Unlike the Automation, here consumers get direct value from the shared economy models and better experience. But the shared economy model is still centralized and hence prevails risks limiting full potential. The shift is going to be towards a new model of decentralized organizations that are aggregating the resources of multiple people to provide a service to a very active group of consumers. This shift marks the advent of a new generation of “dematerialized” organizations that do not require physical offices, assets, or even employees.

3) The confluence of Digital technologies fuelling the next-level adaption/growth: We make a progress beyond adapting one or two digital forces towards the convergence of the ecosystem of digital technologies that drives the collective benefit of businesses, consumers and all stakeholders.

Boosting Customer Loyalty Programmes (Blockchain for Gift Cards – Part I)

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Getting little bit into history, reward programs spans over a century (~120 years) with S&H Green Stamps in late 1800’s, the launch of modern programs by the airlines ~35 years ago, and to the recent coalition programs like Plenti’s initial marketing partners that include Macy’s, AT&T, Exxon Mobil and Rite Aid.

According to the 2017 Colloquy Loyalty Census, there are 3.8 billion individual loyalty memberships in the United States increasing from 2.6 billion in 2012. Every day we come across some sort of customer loyalty and reward programs in our daily lives while consuming products and services across industries that represent the spread of memberships in retail – 42%, travel & hospitality – 29%, financial – 17%, media & content, the cross-section of these industries and as well as others representing remaining 12%.

With that being said, loyalty and reward programs are facing the underpinning threats as well as bundled with few opportunities as described below. In view of this, Providers of loyalty programs should focus on their long-term sustenance and growth strategies. The following metrics are compiled from Kobie and Colloquy reports.

Threats:

  • Only 46% of loyalty memberships in the USA are active leaving behind more than half of all memberships inactive
  • Over 70% of consumers in the age group of 20 to 34 years old said they would change where they shopped to get more loyalty rewards

Opportunities:

  • 34% of USA consumer say they are loyal to a brand because of its loyalty program
  • Loyalty/reward programs with integrated sustainability, contribution to the environment and quality of life are scoring more than the rest

In the above context, Blockchain technology can play a significant role allowing the providers to integrate store locators, payment vehicles, loyalty programs, even games, in a platform that enables information always to be at the consumer’s fingertips. The blockchain based platform can offer convenience, rewards, ease of use and customer experience combine to build consumer loyalty, engagement, and advocacy.

Traditionally most rewards programs use a proprietary “points system”. Customers can accumulate points for purchases at a rate that was set by the issuer and finally uses the points to purchase merchandise at a redemption ratio set by the issuer which is somewhat regulated. 3rd party fulfillment usually handles the redemption hosting the user redemption via an online web framework, maintain and keep the catalog of rewards, administer point balances, manage promotions, ship rewards, and deduct the points in a systematic manner. As you can realize by now the multi-party loyalty systems are somewhat circumvented and that leads an opportunity for disintermediation. The recent developments with blockchain technology seemingly offers an effective alternative to run loyalty programs.

As depicted in the diagram above, the entire ecosystems of loyalty & rewards programs including providers, channel distributors, customers, incentives & payments firms can be seamlessly integrated onto a blockchain core to enhance the overall value proposition. Blockchain can enable a ledger of transactions to be shared across a network of participants. When a loyalty point is issued, redeemed, or exchanged, the blockchain’s AI algorithm-generated unique token could be created and assigned to that transaction and distributed across the loyalty network, updating every ledger simultaneously. Loyalty participants can validate the new transaction and link them to older transactions, creating a strong, secure, and verifiable record of all transactions, without the need for intermediaries or centralized databases. However, for security and privacy of loyalty programs, it may be logical to design a closed-loop rewards program, where only those parties involved in the loyalty program, issuers and merchants, would be allowed, which resembles a private or a permissioned blockchain.

If you can visualize, in loyalty platform backed by blockchain, the points associated with the rewards systems can be deposited by the issuer in a customer crypto wallet that would be available to immediately spend at any of the merchants that accept that cryptocurrency and participate in that closed blockchain. The issuer would no longer need to carry the liability for all unused points on its books, which is estimated at ~10% leakage of rewards that expire and can be written off with no redemption costs. To compensate this blockchain based systems can deliver cost savings in redemption by eliminating the third-party fulfillment function, along with the associated fees for those services. The cardholder would no longer need to log in to the fulfillment website to redeem points for merchandise or travel. Instead, the rewards currency could be used to purchase from any merchant, e-tailer, travel site or brick and mortar that accepts that rewards currency. Presumably, this would be a closed loop of possibilities, to avoid the problems that merchant consortiums such as Plenti had to deal with. Each merchant would then need to balance their prices, in the rewards cryptocurrency, in order to increase the potential for the cardholder to spend with them, but still maximize profitability. The inefficiencies arising from the issuer paying fees to a third party could be put back towards the issuer’s reward program, the payback for giving up the “breakage”. This, in turn, would allow the issuer to increase its rewards.

One would think now about how to handle a sporadic crypto price fluctuations? One way to address this is by keeping the rewards currency, not as a tradeable token on exchanges making the blockchain a permissioned network allowing only issuers who participate in the program, and merchants who are willing to redeem could be nodes keeping the expense and time delay of each transaction to reasonable costs and near-real-time. The participating nodes can be designed to perform a proof-of-cooperation calculation to maintain the integrity of the transaction.

To sum it up, leveraging customer loyalty blockchain platform,  the issuer no longer sets redemption ratios in the future-generation model of card rewards & redemption, removing any ambiguity as to what each reward point is worth. This allows merchants to price their goods at market rate to encourage purchase, removing hidden markups and resulting in loyalty truly becoming a currency.

Refer to Part II @

https://akshinthalakk.com/2018/06/30/enhancing-gift-crads-value-proposition-blockchain-for-gift-cards-part-ii/