Distributed and open technologies are bringing new business models, personalization, prediction, motivation, collaboration and trust in healthcare

Much media attention is given to blockchain and its best-known use case, Bitcoin. However, the most impactful business and societal implications of blockchain are still in their early stages or yet to come.  One of the important industries that will be distributed by blockchain technology is healthcare.

The future of health and wellness

The number of people aged 60 years is now 962 million and by 2050 it is projected to reach 2.1 billion. The rising life expectancy, together with an ageing population is creating high demands on our health care systems. Not only is there a strong need for rapid innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry, but also the way healthcare is delivered in our societies will need to change. Thus, the healthcare sector is under rapid innovation cycles to embrace new therapies (suchs as immuno-oncology, gene therapies, personalized medicine) and emerging technologies (for example artificial intelligence, augmented reality, wearable technologies, and blockchain).

To provide affordable quality care for an ageing population, healthcare systems will need to focus on effectiveness, and home and preventive care. Wearables and different types of sensors will monitor your genealogical weakness points already before you fall ill and artificial intelligence (AI) applications will analyse the data streams together with your doctor. You will be guided by an application, which generates a personalised patient path for you. The enabler of this disruptive change will be blockchain technology.

New ways of healthcare

Blockchain technology will enable placing the patient at the centre of the healthcare ecosystem. It will increase the security, privacy and interoperability of health data and it will make health records more efficient, disintermediated and secure. Also, it will allow for the addition of wellness records (such as a fitness tracker data stream) to supplement your health records for the AI systems to more accurately analyze your health.

Some examples of how exactly blockchain is changing healthcare:

Value-based care

Blockchain-based smart contracts are used for focusing on patient outcomes. The patient pays for the result and not for the medical process (Robomed Network).

Patient wellness motivation

A user of the wellness platform is rewarded with crypto tokens for engaging in healthy activities (Clinicoin).

Provider collaboration audit trail

Providers are reimbursed for care depending on how extensively they worked with other providers (ConnectingCare).

Prescription medication provenance

Bringing together competing pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers to improve traceability of medicine (MediLedger Project).

Why is blockchain technology so powerful?

Blockchain technology is a new type of a data-architecture and that makes it powerful as we live in the data-driven era. The most important businesses, such as Google and Amazon, are about data. Blockchain technology stores data in a decentralized way in multiple computers to make sure it is not tampered with. There are hundreds of different decentralized ledger technologies today and their governance structures ensure that a single computer cannot decide what data are stored. This way, we can trust that the stored information will not be corrupted by a party that would benefit from the change. The system creates programmable trust.

Different types of blockchain technologies and other decentralized ledger technologies are important building blocks of our future. When they are combined with AI, AR/VR, IoT and Robotics they provide completely new ways to set up the societies we live in. They hold the potential to disrupt not only the Internet but the way our societies are governed and what we know of as the current way of doing business. The impacts could be vast. Blockchain technologies are also being applied to the fields of finance, government, energy, accounting, logistics, insurance, education, record keeping and governance.

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