Morrison & Foerster Hosts 2nd Annual Blockchain Healthcare Summit

Five Morrison & Foerster attorneys recently participated in the 2nd Annual Blockchain Healthcare Summit in our New York City office, and provided an overview of the current state of the industry, including a discussion of blockchain-enabled applications for compliance, privacy, practitioner credentialing, patient medical records, digital biomarkers, clinical trials and social equity.

The challenges related to housing patient medical records in centralized servers and how blockchain technology can help solve this issue were discussed on the panel, “Patient Records on the Chain to Improve Continuity of Care.” Kristen Mathews, a partner in MoFo’s Global Privacy + Data Security Group, addressed a myriad of privacy laws, on state and international levels, and the related requirements for businesses, providers, and patients. She proposed the possibility that a permissioned blockchain, as opposed to a public one, may be the most effective solution for sharing patient data, even as that may forfeit some of the advantages of a public blockchain.

Spencer Klein, a partner and co-chair of the firm’s Mergers + Acquisitions Group and Dario de Martino, a partner and co-chair of the firm’s Blockchain + Smart Contracts Group led the panel, “Recent Developments in Blockchain for Healthcare,” addressing the legal, technical and financial issues that must be considered in order to successfully complete an M+A transactions in the blockchain and healthcare sector. The blockchain industry is becoming ripe for a wave of mergers, acquisitions, joint-ventures and other strategic transactions. A diverse array of companies, both legacy and startup, are trying to take advantage of first-mover status and pull ahead of the competition by becoming a leader in blockchain technology through M+A. In 2018 alone, market participants closed over 50 blockchain-related M&A transactions, which represents a staggering 170% increase in activity since the previous year. With over 675 token projects currently known to the market, it appears virtually inevitable that consolidation is due. The panelists also discussed the current main drivers of blockchain healthcare M+A transactions including (i) the threshold decision re buying vs. building blockchain healthcare technology in-house, (ii) the scarcity of skilled human capital, (iii) the depressed valuation of digital assets and (iv) the desire to access user communities.

Jonathan Bockman, a partner and head of the firm’s East Coast Patent Prosecution Group, joined the panel, “Selecting Blockchain Vendors and Implementing the Technology,” where he spoke about healthcare organizations and their relationship to software; more specifically, how healthcare organizations are beginning to understand software’s potential to be one of the most important assets. Jonathan discussed his extensive work with medical device companies, their constant production of data and the difficulties and opportunities of organizing and securing this data.

Tracy Bacigalupo, a partner in MoFo’s Corporate Department, served as a co-chair of the Summit.

The use of blockchain technology is increasingly expanding and it is being incorporated with other emerging technologies, such as AI, IoT, and cloud computing, to increase efficiency, transparency, and security in the healthcare industry. The Summit took a deep dive into these emerging trends and showcased how MoFo attorneys are at the forefront of these innovations.