By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. technology company The Bitfury Group has formed a partnership with Insilico Medicine, a Baltimore-based medical artificial intelligence (AI) firm, to create new applications for the healthcare industry using blockchain, Bitfury's chief executive officer said on Friday.
Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that gained prominence as the software underpinning the digital currency bitcoin. The technology, being developed in the public and private sectors, has gained attention globally for its ability to permanently record and track assets or transactions across all industries.
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The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding last month for collaboration to study and develop blockchain and AI solutions for sharing, managing, tracking and validating healthcare data, said Bitfury founder and CEO Valery Vavilov in an email to Reuters. The collaboration is in an early stage and there were no details available about potential projects or specific uses.
Artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector uses algorithms and software to mimic human ability in analyzing complex medical data. Vast amounts of healthcare data are pushing the development of AI applications.
Vavilov said both companies will use Bitfury's Exonum blockchain platform to store and secure health data in a system compatible with artificial intelligence.
"AI has not reached its full potential for the healthcare industry yet because it requires a large and diverse range of data to learn from in order to ensure accuracy and provide actionable results," said the Bitfury chief executive.
Healthcare AI is expanding by an annual rate of 40 percent, research firm Frost & Sullivan said in a recent study. It said global revenue generated by artificial intelligence systems will soar to $6.7 billion by 2021 from $811 million in 2015.
"A blockchain-based medical records system could safeguard patient data and allow for improved interoperability between doctors and hospitals, while also giving patients more ownership over their own records," Vavilov said.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by David Gregorio)