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Hospitals join IBM blockchain solution for sourcing COVID-19 supplies

covid-19 ppe

IBM announced Rapid Supplier Connect, a supply chain solution designed to help with COVID-19 shortages. Buyers joining the network include New York hospitals and healthcare providers, but it’s also designed to help government agencies.

Numerous companies that are not usually part of the healthcare supply chain are now producing PPE equipment such as masks, gowns, visors and other items in short supply. IBM says the Worldwide Supply Chain Federation has onboarded 200 American suppliers. The challenge for the buyers is to find these companies and to trust them, which is where blockchain comes in.

The new solution uses the Trust Your Supplier blockchain, developed by Chainyard, which allows suppliers to sign up once and their information to be shared multiple times with permissioned buyers. Apart from saving time for the supplier, for the buyer, it radically reduces the onboarding time for new suppliers. Outside of this COVID-19 use case, numerous big brands are using Trust Your Supplier, including Vodafone, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia and Schneider Electric.

The Rapid Supplier Connect collaboration includes Project N95, the clearinghouse for COVID-19 supplies, that will help to vet suppliers. Additionally, Dun & Bradstreet will provide data about the suppliers, including risk scores, and KYC Sitescan contributes Know your Supplier data.

In addition to Trust Your Supplier, the solution includes IBM supply chain and inventory management offerings. Access to the initiative is offered to qualified buyers and suppliers at no charge through to the end of August.

Numerous companies are coming up with solutions to address the Coronavirus crisis. IBM and Hacera collaborated to help to share COVID-19 data. 

But a large proportion of the efforts is focused on contract tracing and immunity passports. In the case of contact tracing, there are concerns that solutions need to be decentralized for privacy, and the EU parliament has even demanded it. The Baseline Protocol is also exploring a solution.

For immunity passports, there’s a 60+ group of companies that have come together to use self sovereign identity in the COVID Credentials Initiative. And Quantum Materials is using nanoparticles to ensure the validity of the test kits as well as the person administering the test. Blockchain is used to ensure the results can’t be tampered with.