MediLedger Network: How Blockchain-Enabled Solutions Will Change How Companies Do Business, Together
This month is the 4th anniversary of our very first industry group meeting of the MediLedger Project. The original goal was to bring leading life science innovators together to explore how blockchain could solve business problems and enable capabilities not possible with existing technology. Today we are the leading blockchain enterprise network in the Life Sciences industry. We already have a decentralized solution in production, and our second solution anticipates production transactions in the next few months. Our pipeline of future solutions is also growing rapidly. We are immensely proud of our industry partners for their vision and grateful that they trusted us to facilitate the industry conversations to get us here.
Despite great progress, I still feel blockchain and its capabilities are still not fully understood (or believed!). What has been missing until now is tangible, real-life examples of how this technology can be used to solve immediate business problems. I want to walk you through how we have enabled these capabilities in our solutions, and hope these examples can ignite the imagination of business leader’s to recognize pain points previously unaddressable until now.
Solving Business Problems
The MediLedger Network has been established with architecture and solution design that allow competitors and trading partners to sit in the same network, not controlled by any single party, and share data and transactions directly with each other without leaking any business intelligence. This innovative use of a set of cutting edge technologies enables capabilities not possible in standard on-prem or cloud-based solutions.
Chronicled has launched the first two solutions on the network to solve real business problems:
The Product Verification System enables Authorized Trading Partners (specifically licensed Wholesalers and Dispensers) to scan a barcode on prescription medicine, and get an answer back in less than a second from the Manufacturer’s database that the unique identifier is authentic. This solution provides a step-function improvement in drug security to reduce risk and fraud in the US medicine supply chain. This solution, built on industry-agreed standards enables interoperability with all solution providers, even those not in the MediLedger Network. The solution was initially designed to meet regulations around drugs returned and resold in the US. With the three big Wholesalers, as well as half of the top 20 Pharma Manufacturers using our solution, > 95% of all drugs resold in the US will be verified with the MediLedger Network. We are now in discussion with Dispensers to enable sub-second verification at hospitals and pharmacies as well.
The Contract and Chargeback solution was designed to drastically reduce the disputes and revenue leakage in the current revenue management processes between Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs), Manufacturers, and Wholesalers. The Life Science industry today has to manage >100,000 disputes every day due to misaligned pricing and eligibility between parties. Data is continually changing: pricing updates; doctors and hospitals change business activities, potentially affecting their eligibility; changes in GPO and Wholesaler customers. Our solution, allowing companies to sit in a trusted network, ensures parties are connected both publicly and privately to ensure continuous alignment at all times, making all those disputes go away.
These two solutions are great case studies of many of the capabilities that become possible when the blockchain technology is incorporated into the solution design:
Immutable Record Keeping
Capability: Having timestamped records of data, events, and transactions that can not be changed — even by the originator of the data — without everyone having both the original information and the evidence of changes made to the record.
How: The MediLedger Network runs decentralized, so every participating company runs its infrastructure independently. All companies agree on network wide-rules, and the blockchain consensus enforces those rules. If the rules are met, all nodes record an identical record of the transaction. No one player can override or change any of the business rules or transaction records because the blockchain consensus prevents it.
Examples: In our Contract and Chargeback solution, every time information about the contract is changed — new pricing, new eligibility, etc. — the Manufacturer puts an updated “proof” of the contract onto the blockchain. The Wholesaler knows that all chargebacks meeting the eligibility and price will be honored because the validity of that state of the contract can not be altered.
This construct can also be valuable in future interactions with agencies, like the FDA, where additional auditing can be eliminated as records associated with drug manufacturing or clinical trial data are stored in a state that is certified as not having been altered, while at the same time not sharing confidential information with parties who shouldn’t see it.
Trusted Source of Truth
Capability: Working from the same up-to-date data as your trading partners, guaranteed to come from the true source of the information.
How: The MediLedger Network is permissioned, and so companies need to be onboarded based on the role they play in the process. The MediLedger solution ensures, through those company identities stored on the blockchain, that only they can add or modify information about their products or data via control of their company identity. By companies all participating securely in the same network, common data sharing becomes possible.
Example: Our Product Verification solution is driven by the GS-1 product identifiers, Global Trade Identification Numbers (GTINs). By only allowing the licensed manufacturer to control that information, the other trading partners in the network can be assured that the information is coming from them.
In our Contract and Chargeback solution, we have enabled the sharing of Industry identifiers (HIBCC, HRSA, and DEA databases) so that everyone is operating off the same information. This enables real-time updating of any changes that can impact eligibility.
Business Rule Enforcement
Capability: Ensuring all business rules that matter to you are enforced for any data or transactions prior to them being sent.
How: “Smart Contracts” are logic that are stored on the blockchain, that no one independently can modify due to the decentralized nature of the solution (as described above about Immutable Records). This logic can ensure that the rules that have been agreed upon are enforced prior to allowing the data or transaction to be recorded.
Example: As described above, the MediLedger Contract and Chargeback solution stores the latest state of the contract on the blockchain — all pricing and eligibility — in the form of a cryptographic proof, so no one can see the private information. When a Wholesaler goes to sell the product, they check against the blockchain that they are selling the drug at the current price and eligibility, and if not, the transaction will not be posted, and the chargeback will not be sent to the Manufacturer to accept. This, along with the immutable record, creates the incentive on both sides of the transaction: the manufacturer knows that their price/eligibility will be honored, and the wholesaler knows they will be paid.
Also, the Life Science industry (along with many others) relies on EDI infrastructure to exchange data and transactions between trading partners. EDI is simply a data exchange, with no rule enforcement or validation, that sends data in batches (not real-time) and relies on 3rd parties as intermediaries. The MediLedger Network enables rule enforcement and real-time exchanges directly between trading partners and is one of the core capabilities that will enable true automation between companies.
Exchange of Digital IP
Capability: Having a trusted record of the transfer of ownership of products or IP between two parties.
How: By setting up the appropriate business rules, we can ensure that only parties that have rights can control items, such as product identifiers or labeler codes, which includes transferring control of those items to other parties.
Example: Our Product Verification solution has been designed with a smart contract that can allow the owner and controller of a molecule to transfer ownership of that molecule to another company (an M&A scenario that is quite frequent in the Life Science industry). For example, if Pfizer is sells the ownership of a molecule to Novartis, they can initiate a transfer of the molecule on the blockchain, and Novartis can accept ownership on the blockchain. The packaging of the product will still have Pfizer identifiers for some time (packaging changes can take up to a year to be implemented), but the industry trading partners can understand that Novartis now has business responsibility for the molecule. In today’s world, this is often hard to decipher, as emails may not be interpreted as legal proof of the change. By the fact that the solution ensures only Pfizer can initiate the transfer, and only Novartis can initiate the receipt, the information can be trusted.
There are other capabilities that this network construct will enable that are not yet deployed in these two solutions, but are on our product roadmap for use in the near future:
Trusted Multi-Party Conditional Logic
Capability: Based on a transaction between two parties, automatically trigger an event with a third party.
How: Building off the logic of secure Business Rule Enforcement (see above), it will be easy to add additional logic to initiate a separate event/transaction with a separate third party.
Example: In the near future, we intend to add automated GPO admin fee management built off the actual Chargeback transactions recorded on the blockchain between Wholesalers and Manufacturers.
We also see the potential to create a valuable data marketplace between companies. This exchange of data can trigger direct payments between trading partners, or other logic between parties directly or third parties that may have additional value-added activities associated with the data exchange.
Digital Exchange of Credit
Capability: Similar to the Exchange of Assets, we can enable the direct peer-to-peer exchange of credit that can be automated and immutable between parties.
How: By linking the network all the way through to companies’ actual bookkeeping ledgers, we can ensure the exchange of credits in a way that is immutable and trusted. Today’s world is run by double-entry accounting, allowing each party of a transaction to control their own ledger and source of the truth. In the future, this decentralized technology can allow for companies to securely share access to the same ledger — allowing them to trust the entries, and having them match every single time.
Example: We have already begun to identify pain points between companies, where transaction reconciliation takes manual efforts due to invoices being grouped in different ways at each company. We have already started investigating how we can let computers do the work of identifying debits and credits at a chargeback level — and in the future at an individual saleable unit level — to ensure accurate bookkeeping every single time.
As companies and industries start to see the opportunities to solve difficult business problems the adoption of blockchain-powered solutions will grow. And as companies are connected in secure networks, the ability to combine data sets between companies in new ways will enable whole new ways of doing business. We are excited to be helping the industry see what is possible in the future of doing Business, Together.
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