Medical technology, digital medicine and health tech are all sectors that closely work together yet each apply a diverse set of tools and applications to improve medicine, health care, patient recovery, illness prevention, to name just some. These areas aim to continuously improve and modernize medicine.
The MedTech industry includes the application of the latest modern technological advancements in medicine. For example, AI and machine learning are heavily used to create electronic nurses and remote assistants for the elderly and sick people. Blockchain is also a technology that is being slowly adopted by this sector. Due to the pandemic, the interest of investors in this industry has grown alongside the rise of many startups that work on developing different blockchain-based solutions.
For investors, health tech looks very attractive. In the first half of 2021, nearly 15 billion dollars were invested in 372 digital healthcare deals. That tops investments for all of 2020. A decade ago, digital health investments were a fraction of what they are now (fewer than 100 deals and just $1.1 billion in investments).
Blockchain Integration into the Health Tech Industry
Blockchain technology is used in several different applications in medical institutions. The most popular cases are:
- Patient electronic health records
- Supply chain transparency
Electronic Health Recording Using Blockchain Technology
With the blockchain protocol being a distributed database for recording and storing information, software solutions based on this tech used in the medical system to store and transfer information is one of its most straightforward applications. Such systems allow timely access to the files, thus diminishing possible mistakes in data transfer and keeping it all safe. When COVID-19 began its world rampage, one of the urgent questions for the health industry was access to relevant information. Information about virus cases was needed to research on the new disease, find effective treatments and, eventually, develop the vaccines.
Such systems also guarantee the safety and confidentiality of personal health information/data.
Electronic data storage and transfer on the blockchain are one of the business cases in high demand, with majorities of the startups developing these solutions based in North America or the UK. Some notable names include Canadian company Akiri and American firm Factom. MedicalChain, also US-based, has already built an entire ecosystem, including tokens, thus providing an example to the rest of the world on how you can do this. Their concept goes beyond just storing and distributing the data, however, they added many more solutions, like insurance-based smart contracts.
The management of the large amounts of data collected by health systems presents a technological challenge. This information should be distributed upon request to all health care members (patients, doctors, regulatory authorities, etc.) correctly and efficiently.
Access to public and private keys used in the blockchain system brings the solution to these solutions. As a result, data is transferred efficiently, and access can always be verified.
Blockchain in Supply Management
The second most applicable business case for blockchain in the medical industry is the supply chain, which is also based on the ability of protocols to correctly store, transfer and track information. Blockchain brings transparency to this process, helps to cut costs, tracks medical supplies and verifies their origins.
These types of systems that track the supplies from the raw material towards the medical market distribution helps to establish transparency and improve the brand image.
Mediledger is a company that delivers solutions to track drug supply chains based on the blockchain. Mediledger provides access to all parties interested in processing information on products, suppliers, manufactures, delivery, etc. The platform’s primary users are drug manufacturers and government authorities.
The Potential of Blockchain
Within these two practical business applications for blockchain in the medical field, we can also find smart contracts, which are often used for insurance and supply chain purposes.
Today, in a world still challenged by the pandemic, medical tech attracts lots of investments and attention from all market players. Some blockchain-powered solutions are already being used and have helped to reduce costs, speed up decision-making processes, deliver transparency and benefit the entire healthcare system. Furthermore, there are many solutions still in development and yet to be found. The patient journey has improved in many ways, and we can expect more changes here going forward. All new advancements in medicine and healthcare will continue to be closely covered by the media.