Find out how tokenized medical data can lead the way to more advanced hospital networks, medical research, and pharmaceutical supply chains.
One of healthcare's biggest problems is not what you think. Although there's a growing need for more affordable healthcare, medical prescriptions, and insurance. Data might be healthcare's next major challenge.
Many hospitals and healthcare institutions all over the world still record files and patient data on paper. Over time, this practice has proven to be costly and inefficient with 80% of medical data unorganized and unstructured.
Sensitive data such as patient health records have become an increasingly valuable commodity for medical research and breakthrough developments. Not to mention, there is an ethical concern about the collection, transfer, and sale of patients’ data without their consent.
Currently, there is a lack of centralization and interoperability of medical data across the global healthcare network. Finding the means to make this possible will need an unbiased, unchangeable, and foolproof technological solution. Paging NFTs:
How Healthcare Can Use NFTs
Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are digital assets registered on a public decentralized blockchain. They use unique digital identifiers to attribute certain assets to a specific digital token permanently.
Each token is extraordinarily unique because there will be nothing like it at all. Anyone can tokenize or turn different types of assets such as photos, videos, digital files, and even real-world items into a digital token.
In application, NFT technology can potentially innovate entire industries, especially healthcare. As an emerging technology, they have a fast-growing capacity to match the increasing demand for growth and advancement in medical research, medical data, pharmaceutical supply chains, and authentication, among many others.
As an essential and fast-growing industry, healthcare can benefit a lot from using NFT technology, even in its infancy. Through digital tokenization, hospitals and medical institutions can create a network for secure and shareable medical data. Medical procedures, treatments, and diagnoses will all become easy to verify.
On the other hand, think about how challenging it is to access and track patient records. What if there’s a way to compile all the patient’s medical history in one master health record?
NFTs can give patients the opportunity to own their health records and collect it all on one health record. With medical data updated in real-time, delivery and verification of patient information, test results, and updates will no longer take weeks to process.
There is an incredible number of opportunities where NFTs can be used to stimulate innovation in the global healthcare industry.
In this article, we’ll be going over 8 NFT utility ideas that can advance healthcare beyond fixing its biggest data problems:
8 Ways NFTs Can Be Used to Support Healthcare’s Biggest Data Problems
- Improve shareability of patient health records
- Boost medical research and development
- Access daily fitness and health data
- Monetize genetic data
- Protect medical data from cyberattacks
- Reduce counterfeit medication
- Optimize blood banks and donations
- Authenticate HCP credentials and data
1 All-in-One Patient Health Records
Centralizing electronic health records with NFTs would be an absolute game changer for the healthcare industry.
The global medical data issue stems from the unchanging complexity of current healthcare information systems. Data silos make it difficult for healthcare professionals and institutions all over the world to get a full picture of their patient's medical histories. A 2016 study from Johns Hopkins suggests diagnostic errors and poor patient care from inaccurate and erratic patient records are the third leading cause of death in the US.
If the entire healthcare industry could combine a patient’s medical history with one master health record stored in a secure and reliable network. Then, sharing, tracking, and updating patient data could be more effective and beneficial than it is today. Collaboration within medical teams can happen in real-time. Patients can see when their records are updated. Hospitals will find it easy to verify patient medical histories.
Fortunately, this approach is entirely possible with NFT technology. They can address many issues on medical data with an interoperable data exchange system where medical teams can easily access sensitive patient health data. With the patient's consent of course!
What makes this kind of system even better is how it would give patients the opportunity to take control over their own medical data, privatize how it is used, and most especially, experience more patient-centric healthcare.
Both patients and healthcare professionals can benefit from an NFT-based central medical data system. Digital tokens can simplify data verification and make access to patient records way faster and smoother.
2 Stimulate Medical Research and Development
Another interesting NFT use case for medical data is introducing self-custody and privatization of data to patients. And, to everyone in general!
For medical research and clinical trials, data is the currency of progress. Data from research and trials pave the way for breakthrough medications, treatments, and cures. Without enough quality data and willing participants, both areas of healthcare development fail and unintentionally waste years of research and funding. An AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings study reports that 86% of clinical trials fail even before the trial recruitment process. Around 2 out of 10 trials either discontinue or cancel just because they can’t enroll enough participants.
Although NFT technology cannot directly help discover the cure for cancer or any other serious disease, it can help expedite the efficiency of clinical trials and attract a constant influx of willing research and trial participants. By allowing collaboration between research companies and patients, digital tokens can stimulate and boost development in healthcare.
Now that patients have control over their own records and medical histories. Patients now have a choice of when, where, and with whom to share their personal health data. They can also take control of how it is used and even monetize it.
Because of the newfound value of their data, patients can sell access to anonymized versions of their data to interested medical research companies. Healthcare companies with digital services can use NFTs to encourage patients to join clinical studies to share and earn from their data.
Platforms like Mintology can help hospitals and healthcare organizations develop a central interoperable system that can make patient data easier to access and shareable with their medical teams. The NFT-for-business service can help medical research organizations create a system to collect, follow, and manage patient data and consent for paid clinical trials.
3 Access Fitness and Health Data
With all this talk about data, it wouldn’t be complete without fitness data. One of the most exciting databases to integrate NFTs would be daily health and fitness data.
Recognizing the importance of data in the industry, it’s not difficult to imagine how all of us, not only patients, humans, are rich sources of health data. Although basic data such as height, weight, and age aren’t that special individually, when studied together their combinations can produce unique sets of interpretable data.
In present times, almost everyone knows about the existence of their personal data yet they either don’t know how to access it or how to use it.
With the rise of smart watches, wearables, and health-tracking devices, many device owners already know about their data and may have racked up a large collection of it after months and years of usage. Through tokenization, people can now track and sell access to their health data. Maybe, even paid consent to continue monitoring it in real time.
Fitness and lifestyle health companies can use NFTs to expand access and collection of data while giving customers ownership of their health information. Not to mention, this will significantly improve the consumer feedback process. And, achieve a new level of trust with user-centric data privacy and security.
4 Monetize Genetic Data
Besides patient records and health data, genetic information is also another promising area tokenization can help out on.
Like with medical research, people can use tokenization to put the “data” ball in their court and monetize their genetic data. With NFTs, companies can attract more people to get involved with their research and even use their services.
Many companies already offer online DNA and gene analysis services to their customers. By adding the option to tokenize data in the mix, DNA testing companies can not only give customers a permanent record of their genetic info. But, they can also create a public database on the blockchain for customers to see how related they are to other clients. Also, users can track how, where, and when their data is accessed.
Who knew the uniqueness of NFTs could help recognize uniqueness and similarities within our global community?
5 Protect Hospital Databases
Privacy and security mean a great deal when it comes to data. NFT technology can help strengthen both in healthcare.
Security company Protenus saw a 42% rise in healthcare-related cyberattacks in 2020, breaching over 30 million patient records. The 2019 hack on Canadian medical testing company LifeLabs is an alarming example of the pertinence of this issue.
So how can NFTs protect medical data?
By using blockchain technology’s encryption features, tokenizing medical data can reinforce security in healthcare information systems. Data leaks would cause less damage because of the decentralized nature of NFT-based databases. With patients being the only ones authorized to grant access to their data, the risk of hacks will decrease the swelling number of hospital cyber attacks.
For now, the promise of tokenization will have to go through rounds of regulation and legalization processes before it finds formal approval and integration. Only time will tell.
6 Reduce Counterfeits in Pharmaceuticals
Pharma supply chains are another aspect of healthcare frequently targeted by criminal organizations.
Fake prescription drugs pose a tremendous risk for patients all over the world. Verifying the legitimacy of medical products and where they come from is a huge challenge for the healthcare industry. A new study from WHO reports 1 out of 10 medications in developing countries are fake, killing more than hundreds of thousands every year.
NFTs can be used to protect medical and pharmaceutical supply chains from fake medical products and equipment. Because of blockchain’s immutable nature, the industry can reduce imitations and speed up the authentication process.
Companies can give their customers a transparent channel to trace their products from manufacturing and distribution to sale and consumption. This will also allow them to identify anomalies in their own supply chain and resolve it right away.
Together with trading partners, pharmaceutical companies can start an NFT-based supply chain to reduce the distribution of illegal prescription drugs.
7 Optimize Blood Transfusions
NFTs can also help optimize how blood banks collect, store, track, and process human blood. Blood banks, medical institutions, and organizations can track blood donations and review donors’ information by using the interoperability of crypto tokens.
Tokenization can improve the whole blood donation process from blood extraction to storage and from delivery to its intended receiver. Blood banks can digitalize entire databases that contain supplies and demand for specific blood types from different regions, hospitals, and locations. Many healthcare organizations already encourage using NFT technology for blood donations.
Blood donors can use distinct blood donation tokens to track how and where their blood donations go. Having a system that lets donors find out how their donations help may also inspire donors to donate more and others to do the same.
8 Authenticate HCP Credentials
Hospitals and employers can also use tokenization to authenticate the credentials of their medical teams and healthcare professionals. This useful application is also something we discussed in our latest blog on NFT utility.
NFT technology can help healthcare employers verify HCP credentials and expertise. By tokenizing credentials, professionals will have irrevocable proof to show organizations who want to hire them. Compared to physical records and even digital ones, NFTs are hard to manipulate and obscure, upholding the integrity of their training and experience. This will reduce the chance of getting dishonest and unqualified HCPs on board as well as increase patient safety and quality of treatment.
The Future of Healthcare with NFTs
There are countless opportunities for NFTs to completely transform the future of data ownership, access, and security in healthcare. It has the potential to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and eliminate problems within hospitals, research, pharma, blood banks, and medical teams.
Admittedly, NFT technology is still in its infancy. Many challenges and concerns regarding privacy, security, and property rights still persist in the industry. There is still a need to address the learning curve that comes with learning about blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens. Its application in healthcare will also need regulation and legal approval to remove any opportunity to compromise its usage. The global healthcare industry will also need to work together to create, integrate, and open systems built around tokenization.
Yet, NFT’s promising use still remains with its potential benefits and solutions only evolving more and more as it gets adopted by the general public. Its impact on the future of healthcare, although uncertain for now, is not far from reach.
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