Eddy Zwier MSc
- Technology transfer
- Corporate venturing
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It is generally difficult to demonstrate the effectiveness of eHealth solutions. This is mainly due to privacy legislation, which stipulates that healthcare parties may not share patient data. As part of a consortium that it has formed with CZ (a health insurer), the Zuyderland hospital in South Limburg, and Statistics Netherlands, TNO is working on a solution that spotlights the fully encrypted combination of data.
The CareForData project stems from the concept of ‘value-based care’ – delivery of the right care in the right place. A thorough understanding of the effectiveness of eHealth solutions will help to pinpoint the right care for the right patient. This means care that is tailored to the individual patient. However, the delivery of this care requires data – to ensure that every patient receives the correct treatment. That data is held by parties such as hospitals, GPs, and health insurers, but it cannot – or may not – be shared. One way to overcome that problem is to use Secure Multi-Party Computation (SMPC). This technology makes it possible to perform calculations while using cryptographic techniques to protect the data.
The consortium is working on a solution that will make it possible to perform statistical calculations based on separate data sets without revealing or sharing personal information. A ‘Proof of Concept’ has now been developed to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of future eHealth apps. The outcomes are important for everyone involved – patients, care providers and health insurers. For instance, this would make it possible to avoid unnecessary treatments and cut costs. In this connection, TNO is also using blockchain technology to check who is performing statistical analyses, which analyses are involved, and which datasets are being used. Data is never shared between parties. This approach would, for example, enable statements to be made about relationships within data obtained from different parties, while the individual patient data remains shielded.
There are plans for a second practical trial involving the use of real patient data. That trial is needed to scale up the platform still further and to facilitate its market launch. Substantial cost savings could be achieved by deploying this approach throughout the healthcare sector. Today, the cost effectiveness of care interventions is mainly demonstrated by means of scientific trials. However, these are very time-consuming and expensive. By combining, accessing and aggregating data, CareForData can also provide proof of effectiveness. Not just once, but even continuously. Validation also enables healthcare innovations to be brought to market much more quickly and cheaper than ever before. It will also enable soundly based statements to be made about whether specific apps are effective for specific groups.
TNO would be happy to engage with any parties who are keen to invest in this promising solution or with any care providers, health insurers, or other stakeholders who would like to get involved.