Thanks to its decentralized nature and total transparency, the blockchain technology has proven to be a very powerful foundation for the future evolution of the way people do business.
While blockchain networks are, obviously, utilized in the financial sector through the use of cryptocurrency apps, blockchain technology is potentially applicable to other industries as well. One such industry is the healthcare sector. In fact, there’s already been several documented and successful use cases of blockchain tech in healthcare.
In this article, we’ll examine several use cases that could have a role in changing the way healthcare is run in the future. Each of these cases is interesting because they have demonstrated the game-changing potential of blockchain networks, and the power they have to improve the world in a meaningful way.
The Possible Applications of Blockchain Networks for Data Management
One of the problems that the healthcare sector is faced with today is related to data management. Cumbersome systems currently in place make it harder for doctors to access patient data, and the data is vulnerable to hacker attacks. Moreover, the patients don’t have ownership over their medical data.
Medical Digital Real Estate
All of this can be improved with the assistance of blockchain technology. For example, there have been reports of healthcare organizations making money by selling the patients’ data, which itself is a type of digital real estate. If you’ve been wondering how to invest in real estate with crypto technology, then you might be interested to hear that, in the future, the patients themselves should be able to trade or sell this digital real estate by relying on blockchains.
Namely, there is talk that patients’ data will come in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Regardless of whether those will be whole NFTs (belonging exclusively to patients), or fractional NFTs (wherein the ownership is shared between the patient and the hospital), this will bring substantial monetary benefits to patients.
And what’s best, those are just a few of the many possible future applications of blockchain tech.
Four Top Blockchain Use Cases in Healthcare
Let us now take a look at such systems that have already evolved out of the idea stage and into practical reality.
Security – Akiri
It is not a rare occurrence that the patients’ data, including their credit card information, is stolen by hackers from the insecure centralized databases used by healthcare organizations. In fact, between 2009 and 2017, there have been some 176 million breaches in the patients’ data security in the USA alone!
Akiri, a blockchain network-as-service designed for use in the healthcare industry, is one of the solutions for this problem. Data stored on blockchains cannot be corrupted and is transparent. Moreover, blockchains offer strong data encryption measures, making it extremely hard for hackers to “crack” the data.
Akiri has successfully capitalized on these blockchain advantages, by producing a system of secure data that can only be accessed by the verified parties. In order to decrypt the security measures, users will need to possess a corresponding public key.
Medicine Distribution Control – MediLedger
The healthcare industry suffers from a high number of counterfeit drugs on the market. These drugs are not properly authorized for use and can easily contribute to the further deterioration of the patients’ medical issues.
The number of fake medicines that were captured in the USA in 2021 alone is an alarming indicator that something must change as soon as possible. Namely, if the DEA captured more than 9,5 million fake medications in a single year, then you can imagine what the situation is like in less developed parts of the world.
Of course, blockchain tech can solve these problems. MediLedger is a blockchain protocol that makes it possible for healthcare organizations to keep track of medicine at every step of the way. From the moment a drug is manufactured, the blockchain protocol stores all data that might be needed. Expiration date, manufacturer, and shipping status are just some of the relevant information.
Drug Development – Boehringer Ingelheim
Drug development is a very complex operation, and not just from a scientific point of view, but from the organizational perspective as well. Many people are involved (researchers, doctors, study subjects, sponsors, drug manufacturers), and there’s a huge amount of data produced. Because of this, mistakes aren’t difficult to happen, and it is possible to falsify the information with relative ease.
By providing a convenient way to store and keep track of all the information pertaining to clinical trials, blockchains can make the entire operation much more manageable. Moreover, those clinical trials with questionable protocols will be easier to identify. Finally, all participants can view the data at the same time, regardless of their physical/geographical location, which streamlines the decision-making process.
The Boehringer Ingelheim company offered its services to the clinical trials executives, by offering a bookkeeping system built on the blockchain technology. Among other benefits, this system greatly speeds up the process of paying the participants for their involvement, which used to last for several months at a time.
Genome Research – EncrypGen
The cost of conducting genomic research has greatly shrunk in the last few years. What used to cost $10,000 is now doable for less than $1,000. However, researchers are still faced with the problem of finding enough participants for their genome research. Apart from that, there’s a problem with insufficient and insecure storage space, given that obtained datasets are massive and much storage space is needed.
Enter blockchain. Similarly to the patients’ medical data, blockchains can help by providing the genome research participants with full ownership over their datasets. In fact, EncrypGen did just that. This service offers a blockchain-based marketplace, where participants can sell their genetic data by using traceable tokens.
A Promising Future
So, as you can see, the use of blockchains doesn’t end with buying Bitcoin and investing in cryptocurrency exchanges for personal profit. Its applications can be more humanitarian in nature too, and can actually make the planet Earth a nicer place to spend our days on.
But, these four use cases of blockchain in the healthcare sector are, in fact, just the tip of the iceberg. There are many projects currently in development, and many more which are already offering assistance to the extremely important healthcare industry. Indeed, the future looks exciting for the blockchain technology and its many admirers.