by Lumai Mubanga
The medical industry is one of the largest industries in the world with billions of clients. The fact that every citizen needs it means it is one industry with the potential to make billions of dollars. Every country has its own unique challenges when it comes to handling medical services for its citizens. However, one common challenge is data availability and privacy of that data. Is blockchain finally the answer to that dual necessity?
Several players have come on board to offer diverse services. These services range from data security and access for clients and medical practitioners, as well as innovative ways of encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle while rewarding them with tokens.
Unlike other industries, blockchain is already widely adopted and in use in some health care facilities around the world. Already, it is providing utility by guaranteeing data persistence and availability. Patient data should be persistent and available any time to the medical personnel. This is essential in ensuring the integrity and availability of data that can save someone’s life.
What companies are doing
A firm called Medicalchain seeks to handle this in a particular way. While keeping data private, Medicalchain seeks to tackle this problem by storing access to medical data on the blockchain, only allowing access upon authorization from the user’s mobile device. The implications are that these services can be accessed by any medical practitioner located in any part of the world. This removes geographical restrictions and lightens the burden on patients who may be restricted to their locations because of challenges related to accessing their medical records in local facilities.
Another medical focused blockchain service provider uPort has a different angle. The model is to store the data in the same place it is provided – in the local hospitals or clinics the patient visit. While access, availability and privacy are reinforced locally, the downside is that it may not be accessed away from the local facility.
Other players implementing blockchain in medical data include MIT’s MedRec, Taipei Medical University Hospital, and, surprisingly, Wal-mart, whose product will allow Emergency Medical Technicians to view the medical record of unresponsive patients.
Healthy life style support
Blockchain is also finding use in incentivizing good lifestyles particularly in providing financial incentives for good behaviour. Take for instance sweatcoin app will pay you for walking by tracking your GPS movements in your daily schedules. By counting how long you walk using smartphone technology, the app rewards you in sweatcoin. This no doubt has a positive impact on the efficiency of modern healthcare. Sweatcoin can then be exchanged for things like Paypal Cash, an iPhone and as much as 300 more products from partners in the App industry.
Finally, Mint Health takes a similar angle with a more medical approach. It pays Vidamint tokens for good behaviours ranging from checking your blood sugar to attending a health-related webinar. These tokens can be exchanged for rewards such as lower insurance premiums. With so many blockchain innovations in medical circles, we seem set to see more.