The Canada-based units of Boehringer Ingelheim and IBM will work together to employ blockchain recordkeeping technology in clinical trials, in what they say will be a first in the country.

The two companies will test whether the decentralized framework can provide data integrity, provenance and transparency, as well as automate some trial processes and reduce costs.

“Our guiding philosophy is to bring value to patients and the healthcare system through innovation,” said Uli Brödl, VP of medical and regulatory affairs for Boehringer’s Canada division. “The clinical trial ecosystem is highly complex as it involves different stakeholders, resulting in limited trust, transparency and process inefficiencies without true patient empowerment.”


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The digital ledger technology, which forms of the backbone of Bitcoin, evenly distributes data among several companies, linking each entry to the last to provide data security and transparency.

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IBM Canada will provide the core blockchain technologies behind tracking patient consent and engagement, as well as for securing health data exchanges. The collaboration was announced at the HIMSS conference in Orlando, Florida.

“We’ve been using blockchain in other industries, and we are now investigating how we can use this technology to give Canadian patients the same level of security and trust when it comes to their personal health information,” said Claude Guay, general manager for IBM Services for IBM Canada.

RELATED: launches IBM-powered blockchain app to help users sell their healthcare data

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