Blockchain technology fundamentally offers security, trust, traceability and control. These are all ideals that can be implemented in order to flourish in the healthcare sector — an industry that is always focused on innovation and progress in the name of greater clinical care and improved patient health.
This new technology can be used by healthcare companies to handle large amounts of sensitive patient data and aid in supply chain operation.
What is the blockchain?
Before we delve into cryptocurrency use in healthcare, it would be beneficial to define the blockchain first. It is essentially a system of complex code, without any middlemen, that aims to build trust and security. It is a decentralised network for sharing data, liquidity and digital items.
How can the healthcare industry utilise blockchain technology?
The healthcare industry will be using the blockchain for operational cost savings and real-time exchange of information. Essentially, this technology will be used to control access over medical records, share records instantly and track clinical trials and pharmaceuticals.
The blocks on a blockchain cannot be changed or deleted and always leave a trace. This is so important for the handling of health data. The blockchain can be used to secure health records and clinical information. Whilst pharmaceutical companies can use the blockchain to protect their supply chain and track counterfeit items trying to infiltrate the system.
Furthermore, counterfeit drugs are a massive problem globally. In Asia, Africa and South America, counterfeit drugs comprise between 10–30% of total medicines on sale. 800,000 people die every year because of fake drugs. The blockchain can be used to secure and track the supply chain down to singular items — thus pinpointing and eradicating fake drugs from the supply chain.
The birth of healthcare coins
There are more than 8,000 cryptocurrencies in the world totaling market capitalisation of over $1 trillion. However, it is important to remember that cryptocurrencies are industry-specific. You will have coins specific to healthcare, education, banking, sports and so on. At the moment, there are 19 healthcare coins. You can pay quickly and securely using healthcare crypto coins from a virtual wallet.
Cryptocurrency Companies in Healthcare
- Nebula Genomics: This particular company is involved with human genome DNA sequencing. This is a health fad that has been garnering popularity over the last few years. With genome sequencing, an organisation will be collecting the whole genome for millions of people. Nebula Genomics understands that there is a lot of money and privacy issues when handling so much data. The company is using blockchain technology to protect genome data and secure transactions of data.
- Doc.AI: Doc.AI aims to use the blockchain to bring together disconnected health data to help researchers and doctors find solutions. This system would use patient-submitted on the blockchain to secure privacy and confidentiality. When the data is uploaded to Doc.AI, it can be viewed anonymously by other patients or health professionals suffering from the same problem. This will better inform treatment and medical management.
- Iryo: This European company wants to use the blockchain to bring together differing medical data that is scattered across different systems. Iryo wants to create a system that allows patients to share and view their medical records from anywhere in the world. It is currently being tested in Slovenia.
- Patientory: This Atlanta-based blockchain platform secures a patient’s health data and creates a patient profile. This profile secures and tracks doctor visits, medical bills, medical information, insurance reports, immunisations and prescriptions. Patientory CEO Chrissa McFarlane actually highlighted how important the blockchain can be for the healthcare industry following a ransomware attack on the NHS, stating that a blockchain-enabled system would be impervious to cyber-attacks.
- Guardtime: This Estonian crypto company is officially working with Estonia’s eHealth Authority to secure Estonian health records. These records include genetic information and medical records. Guardtime also signed a deal to provide the same service for the United Arab Emirates.
- Chronicled: This blockchain company is using the technology in a different and interesting way. Chronicled is using the blockchain to help speed up logistics, minimise mistakes and make savings by streamlining processes. Pharmaceutical companies can use Chronicled to manage their production process and track items through the supply chain. This will help prevent counterfeit medicine from falling into the chain.
- Coral Health: This blockchain start-up lets users add their medical records and share it securely with various doctors. They can then receive health tips and get personalised medical advice.
- Medicalchain: This London-based company securely stores health records and shares them with doctors, labs, hospitals and pharmacies — if allowed by the patient. The Medicalchain system then connects patients with doctors via online sessions enabling the medical professional access to their data. MedicalChain announced a partnership with The Groves Medical Group in 2018, pulling in data from more than 30,000 registered NHS patients. This blockchain system also allows patients to pay for services using cryptocurrency.
- EncrypGen: Described as the ‘Amazon of genetic material’, EncrypGen lets people sell their DNA data for cryptocurrency tokens. Whilst some have described it as unethical, the choice is firmly with the patient.
- Blockpharma: This is an application that controls and tracks every single medical item in the pharmaceutical supply chain. It uses a smart algorithm to recognise counterfeit drugs and signal its removal — this instantly preventing thousands of unfortunate deaths.
There are many other blockchain ventures trying to reshape the healthcare industry. However, these 10 are using the technology to secure patient data and streamline the supply chain, all whilst maintaining patient confidentiality and privacy — the two fundamentals of the healthcare industry.
- I have been writing articles about finance, the stock market and wealth management since 2008. I have worked as an analyst, fund manager and as a junior trader in 7 different institutions.
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