In previous articles in my series covering all things NFTs (Tal’s NFT Take), I discussed some of the more commonly used NFT use-cases, including digital art, collectibles, gaming, events and ticketing, as well as the Metaverse. However, one vertical that stands to benefit significantly from NFTs is the healthcare industry.
While we know that that the healthcare space has experienced an aggressive period of digital transformation, it still has a way to go. But, with the growth of blockchain-based solutions that include NFTs, that digital acceleration could be both more effective and efficient.
Key NFT Use-Cases in Healthcare
NFTs can be huge in the Healthcare industry, with multiple potential use-cases - here are a few:
Lifetime Medical Record
Although multiple attempts were made in the past, due to the fragmented nature of the U.S. healthcare ecosystem, we’ve never had the technology to consolidate a person’s slew of medical records into a master document safely and efficiently shared between the relevant caregivers. Nor were we able to figure out a solution for such record’s custody, updating and maintenance.
Sensitive patient health data is scattered across platforms and is notoriously difficult for operators and patients to access. In fact, Over $1.2B clinical documents are produced in the US every year, yet 80% of that data is unstructured or locked away. Additionally, Americans spend over $750B each year on unnecessary treatments, many of which stem from misdiagnosis, or redundant treatment due to poor data management.
NFTs have the potential to solve these various problems – giving the power of medical records back to the patient and streamlining the healthcare experience.
Think about what could be possible if primary care physicians can exchange real-time updates with other healthcare specialists, allowing for easier collaboration and more patient-centric care. NFTs could allow patients to access medical tests results as soon as they’re available, along with access to their complicated (and many times disparate) medical histories instantly and easily, without having to spend time and energy explaining their that history to doctor after doctor. With NFTs, all of this sensitive and critical information would all exist in one place – a patient medical “passport” that’s secure and accurate.
The possibilities to revolutionize patient data ownership and access are endless – all of which offer the industry the opportunity to increase efficiencies and lower costs.
NFTs and blockchain can support the fight against counterfeit pharmaceuticals by streamlining the authentication process. NFTs create digital footprints or a “token ID” that attaches to a particular item throughout its lifespan. The uniqueness of each NFT is specifically defined by the information stored within the NFT’s metadata – pointing to valuable digital resources that are updated in real-time on the blockchain. NFTs provide an immutable record on the ledger reducing, and potentially eliminating, discrepancies and outright fraud.
In the case of pharmaceuticals, NFTs have the ability to secure and streamline the tracking process – enabling the immediate identification of issues. That means that problems can be resolved much more rapidly, including the identification of black-market prescriptions and eliminating them from the system.
Much like a patients’ unique health history and data, NFTs can be used for the tracking and management of blood donations. Blood donors are given a unique token that is then tracked throughout the system. From the time the blood is drawn to its travels to the the blood bank, and to its eventual recipient, NFTs can be an integral part of the tracking process. The technology can also be used to register it in a digital “blood bank,” where the demand for specific blood types may be tracked via a blockchain system and distributed to where it is most required.
Fitness and Health Data
As wearables, at-home workout equipment and other tracking devices gain popularity and mass adoption, many question how to harness health data efficiently while managing it responsibly. Seeing an opportunity, entrepreneurs are leveraging NFTs as a way to decentralize data collection, optimize access, and give patients back control of their health records.
- Aimedis, an in-house NFT marketplace, allows patients to process their data as NFTs and easily forward it to their doctor, dentist, or physiotherapist.
- Enjin partnered with digital platform Health Hero in June to create Go!, where users can create a “Well-being NFT”, or W-NFT, unique to their health and activity characteristics.
- RightsHash, a decentralized software engine, aims to track and manage patient consent for clinical trials.
As with other industries ripe for blockchain and Decentralized Ledger Technology (DLT) disruption, healthcare could be the one that benefits the patients the most. The proliferation of personal and health information is creating an immediate need to manage it effectively, while also maintaining autonomy and security. And, as the globalization of healthcare continues to explode, the need to track and manage medical and pharmaceutical devices becomes more critical. All of these factors and more create the perfect opportunity for NFTs to solve problems and improve experiences across the healthcare industry.