As a result, the progress of their work is supported by more concrete evidence, which translates into faster diagnoses, more effective therapies, and, as a result, better patient outcomes. Limited access to medical data has been one of Europe’s biggest obstacles to medicine and healthcare, and the startup wants to eliminate this barrier.
Data Lake, founded in 2019 by doctors Wojciech Sierocki and Ligia Kornowska, is an EU-funded startup that creates a global system for transmitting medical data based on blockchain technology, whose fundamental pillars are privacy and informed consent.
Previously, Wojciech Sierocki ran a telemedicine startup in Kenya and built a digital patient path platform for private healthcare. In turn, Ligia Kornowska is the managing director of the Polish Federation of Hospitals and a thought leader in artificial intelligence in medicine. They both made the Forbes 25 Under 25 list.
The creation of the startup was a direct response to recent legislative changes and initiatives from the EU, such as GDPR and DGA – regulations that open the legal framework for the ethical use of data to accelerate European innovation. To encourage participation in the company’s data-sharing ecosystem, Data Lake introduced a donor-hospital reward-sharing model that distributes the benefits of medical data purchases by researchers to stakeholders. Financial incentives to share medical data in many countries raise serious legal concerns. However, service benefits and other non-monetary rewards are not considered a problem. Data Lake has identified at least five stakeholder groups that could benefit from participating in the philanthropic health data economy. Its reward-sharing model means that everyone from the general public to hospitals and non-profit organizations can be encouraged and rewarded for the global data transfer system. The company hopes to set the standard for international data transfers and democratize access to medical data while proving that donor privacy and consent can be essential in any such system.
The Data Lake system uses a public blockchain to record the granting or withdrawal of consent of individuals and patients who wish to submit their medical data for scientific research. Once permission is given, it connects to their healthcare facility to receive their electronic healthcare data for complete anonymization before being combined into larger datasets that researchers need.
Over the past few months, Data Lake has dramatically accelerated its operations. The development of the data transfer system is in the final phase before the full public launch in Poland. The startup has partnered with over 20 hospitals and patient organizations, including EIT Health. The company also has the first data jobs pending system launch, which more than 20 data startups and research groups have requested. Thanks to the partner infrastructure and the growing scientific demand, the company is poised to expand to other European countries soon and beyond in the coming years.
As the platform focuses on medical data, one of the biggest challenges facing founders is navigating complex and ever-changing data usage and privacy laws. This required them to perform more rigorous checks and balances than is typical for a startup. While this thorough approach was born out of necessity, it has become a key factor in making the company believe it will be successful. This was appreciated by ESET, a world leader in the field of cybersecurity, which awarded the title of “Heroes of Progress 2022” to Ligia Kornowska at the end of 2022.