Security from lab to lab, thanks to Labchain

march 24, 2019

The first medical blockchain application for laboratories is finally being put into production. The labs at MUMC+ and Radboud UMC will start working with Labchain in May. During the Limburg Leads event, Norbert Schmidt will give the audience the chance to experience how Labchain ensures the secure exchange of lab results between hospitals, without the need for a third party.

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Finally

Norbert Schmidt of DDQ and Dr. Steven Meex, head of the MUMC+ clinical lab, already had a working system that could ensure the secure exchange of lab results through blockchain and peer-to-peer technology last year. They just weren’t allowed to use it.

Norbert: “We had to subject Labchain to a legal audit first. Erik Gerritsen, secretary-general of the Netherlands Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports, took a personal interest in the progress. The bar was set very high since there is hardly any legal leeway for innovations like Labchain. The question of ownership is particularly complicated since the data is decentralized in a network. Labchain ultimately received permission from the State Advocate, and it may now be used. Finally!”

Why oh why?

These days, exchanging lab results is still a human process. Someone retypes the lab results, puts them in an envelope and sends them by mail. Norbert: “It’s so easy to make a mistake. Labchain satisfies labs’ need to exchange laboratory results securely, error-free and fast. Using blockchain technology ensures this may be done in a decentralized and transparent manner. You are no longer dependent on third parties and you can monitor the progress. You could compare it with a track-and-trace system. In the labs themselves, you only need two ‘boxes’, each of which is connected to a computer. I will be giving a demo during the Limburg Leads event, so you will be able to see how it works when two hospitals exchange information, and how secure it all is. It gives you a good idea how blockchain works and the possibilities it offers.”

From idea to product

Steven Meex’s need for the secure exchange of data and Norbert Schmidt’s drive to apply his software expertise to the healthcare sector led to the idea for Labchain. Norbert: “My company DDQ is now located at the Brightlands Smart Services Campus. Qwiek, another campus resident, came up with the idea of the ‘box’ for us. It all happened on a very informal level, based on the will to help each other.

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Steven is part of the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus in his role at MUMC+. This led to a seemingly automatic crossover between the two campuses. We have gained a lot from the Brightlands ecosystem. Adriana Berlanga, one of the business developers, was a huge help with brainstorming. Her strength lies in content and she often sees opportunities we may miss. Brightlands also provided us with support to find financing for Labchain. And we were of course happy to be able to take advantage of the network, the value of which should not be underestimated.”

The future

Labchain is the first product that DDQ is launching on the market. Norbert: “Labchain is an approved communication medium that may be applied in a variety of ways. We’re only going to use it for clinical applications for the time being, but the possibilities are endless. In the years to come, DDQ will have plenty to do.” 

  overview news & events

Brightlands will be presenting a program with strong content at Limburg Leads, the ultimate Euregional knowledge event, on May 15 and 16 at the MECC in Maastricht. The focus will be on themes such as circularity & sustainability, digitalization, talent and health. For Brightlands, the event offers the ideal platform for getting in contact with Euregional companies, policymakers and experts, but mostly also a chance to show off the area’s innovative strength. A line-up of top-level speakers will tell inspiring stories based on Brightlands themes and those of the individual campuses. There will also be masterclasses, including sessions on talent and entrepreneurship.

If you’re interested in finding out when Ingrid Schaefer, Norbert Schmidt, Pieter Kubben, Saskia Goetgeluk, Aalt Bast, Dannie van Osch, Dean Masley, Patric Machiels, Bert Kip, Patrick van der Meer and Christopher Sparks will be telling their stories during Limburg Leads, be sure to check out the program.

Check out the program