NFT in Healthcare: Passing Fad or Promising Technology?
Are non-fungible tokens going to usher in a new era of authenticity in the healthcare sector? Launched in 2014, NFTs are catching headlines for various reasons today. One of the unique attributes of this attention grabbing tokens is ownership. In other words, NFTs guarantee ownership of assets without any hitches. Thus, its application in sectors like NFT real estate and ticketing is favored by the respective businesses.
Apart from real estate, events, art, and sports, there are other industries that are mulling over non-fungible tokens of which, the healthcare sector is one that can benefit enormously.
So, how does NFT pan out in the healthcare sector? NFT features such as uniqueness, indivisibility, ownership, etc., can help the healthcare industry and people (or patients) to a large extent if utilized well.
This article will explore the role of non-fungible tokens in healthcare, their benefits, and their future.
Role of NFT in healthcare
Non-fungible tokens have invaded almost every sector today, from art, music, and real estate to sports, banking, and much more. Its ability to tokenize unique items has been its selling point, and numerous industries have reaped its benefits. However, there are some sectors that haven’t explored non-fungible tokens, such as healthcare.
With the exception of a few startups, it is clear that non-fungible tokens have not been widely used in the healthcare industry. However, as discussed above, one cannot ignore the potential benefits of tokenization that non-fungible tokens bring to healthcare.
Before we get into the potential benefits and use cases of non-fungible tokens, have a glimpse at some medical data issues.
Medical data issues
The medical industry is huge; it produces over $1.2 billion worth of medical documents every year in the US alone. But, around 80% of these records are unstructured and susceptible to theft or misuse. One of the major issues here is that patients remain in the dark regarding their medical data. In other words, patients have no idea where their medical data goes after it is submitted.
Moreover, there’s a huge market for medical data market, which is ruled by some kingpins. Patients not only don’t get any incentives for their healthcare data but also remain ignorant regarding who accesses it.
With artificial intelligence and big data becoming more crucial in drug research, there’s a dangerous trend that is plaguing sensitive medical information. To elaborate further, information such as genetic markups or hospital records are expensive entities that are sold to some firms or businesses. In other words, this information is sold, exchanged, and purchased without the patient’s consent.
Furthermore, as per Kostick-Quenet’s research, there’s another industry that maps anonymous medical data obtained from diagnostic centers or hospitals to user information from social media channels. They create elaborate profiles based on their mappings and sell them to external third parties.
Thus, one can infer that this is a huge nexus that runs without the knowledge of the general public 9or patients). Non-fungible tokens can be used to counter all such fraud developments by giving digital ownership to the involved parties.
Let us see how NFTs can be beneficial to healthcare in detail in the following section
How do NFTs add value to the medical sector?
Non-fungible tokens can add immense value to healthcare by securing health records and standardizing access to private medical data. It can be used in various divisions of the medical industry, such as Logistics, manufacturing, and supply chain related to drugs. For instance, non-fungible tokens can be used to counter unauthentic pharmaceutical products.
Furthermore, incorporating a blockchain into the medical sector benefits all the stakeholders involved in it. For example, anyone can trace medical equipment or drugs to their origin and verify their authenticity (in the case of public blockchain).
Here’s how NFT use in healthcare can be helpful:
By offering ownership and monetization opportunities:
The ownership of medical data can be provided to users or patients by minting the medical information and converting it to non-fungible tokens. Once tokenized, the data will be controlled by patients and subjected to strict terms and conditions. As a result, patients decide who they want to share their data with and who can use it.
Furthermore, patients can also track their healthcare-related information and see where it is utilized or where it ends up. In case the information falls under a shady entity or if it is used by unauthorized parties, they can hold those parties accountable. Additionally, having ownership over medical information makes the patient eligible for royalties.
Attracting patient contributions for research:
One can find numerous health services that are working digitally, so all such companies can use non-fungible tokens to entice people to engage with them for research purposes. Furthermore, other third parties that are interested in such research data can get in touch with patients directly through digital platforms and pay them for their contribution. This way, people will have an idea about their medical data.
In the traditional method, patients were not having any control over their medical data, thus, with the help of NFTs, people would get the option of disclosing the information in an informed manner.
Supply chain optimization for blood banks:
Using non-fungible tokens is not new in blood donation organizations. There are several organizations that prompt people to utilize non-fungible tokens when they donate blood. Since these tokens are unique, they are linked to donors to track their whereabouts. This helps people to know how blood is being utilized.
Usually, the donated blood is recorded with the help of tokenization in a virtual blood bank where the demand for certain blood types is recorded and monitored using DLT (digital ledger technology). Thus, whenever a certain blood type that is in demand arrives at such a bank, the intended hospital is alerted. Furthermore, the tokenized donated blood can be traced from the blood bank to the hospital and subsequently to the intended recipient.
Fighting against fake pharmaceuticals:
Fake pharmaceuticals are one of the most significant challenges that are encountered by the world today. NFTs and blockchain technology can counter these issues easily by simplifying and speeding up the verification process. Firstly, one must understand that non-fungible tokens possess “token ID,” which will be assigned to an object that remains with the product for its lifetime.
The uniqueness of non-fungible tokens helps in the creation of an immutable ledger record that assists in eliminating or reducing discrepancies and fraud of certain products. With respect to pharmaceuticals, non-fungible tokens can be used to safeguard and speed up the tracking process. Also, it enables to detect the errors quickly.
This simply means that issues such as locating and erasing black-market prescriptions from the system can be addressed much more quickly.
Protecting data from health-tracking apps:
One more sector where non-fungible tokens can be used is medical equipment and wearables. Today, one can find an increase in the usage of at-home fitness equipment, medical wearables, and other health-tracking equipment. Thus, managing these devices and the data collected by them safely is one of the challenges where non-fungible tokens can play an important role.
One way to manage these data is through data decentralization and maximizing access to it. Furthermore, it can be employed to improve the ownership of health information and minimize the theft or misuse of data by third parties.
Support for medical devices and their data:
Non-fungible tokens can profit the medical device industry. These advantages are linked to the blockchain’s storage of genetic and personal healthcare data. Several devices, including health-related wearables, smart homes, and interconnected medical devices, may benefit from using NFTs and blockchain as the primary method of data storage and exchange.
Overall, tokenizing medical assets as non-fungible tokens can prove beneficial to the medical industry as a whole. One dependable method is to link NFTs to physical medical assets such as blood units, medications, and other non-reusable medical technologies.
Tokenizing medical assets would facilitate faster access to these resources for patients who require them the most. Assume you can search the blockchain ledger for the assistance you require, learn their location and how quickly you can access them, and have them delivered to you as soon as possible. In that case, you’ll do better than battling traditional medical industry bureaucracy.
Avoiding bureaucracy is one of the best things that can happen to patients and healthcare providers because it has the potential to speed up the entire system exponentially.
Although these are some benefits that non-fungible tokens provide, this approach does have some challenges concerning security, scalability, and other factors that need to be addressed.
How could NFT and blockchain affect the future of the medical sector?
Non-fungible tokens, along with blockchain technology, are capable enough to improve the banking and payment sector in terms of service, speed, and efficiency. Furthermore, the transparency and ownership of medical information can also be enhanced through tokenization, as discussed above. However, it does not mean that tokenization does not have any faults.
There are numerous challenges concerning moral and ethical points of view. There are issues with non-fungible tokens, such as IP rights, security flaws, and the complexity of the technology. Apart from these, there’s a cost issue that might repel people from considering it.
Since this technology is still in the nascent stage, with proper improvements and corrections, non-fungible tokens can aid the healthcare sector to a large extent.
One can say that non-fungible tokens have been evolving since the time they were introduced in 2014. Recent innovations and adoptions only prove that it has a large scope in various industries. Although there are some shortcomings, NFTs have the potential to offer numerous benefits to the healthcare sector.
Thus, it is prudent to explore and see how non-fungible tokens can be incorporated into the medical industry for the benefit of all. Overall, NFTs and the medical sector can be integrated to benefit the involved parties.
Whether you wish to learn about NFT, Blockchain, Web3.0, Metaverse, or other emerging technologies, we have the vital resources that will enlighten and help you make an informed decision.
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