NFTs: Revolutionizing the healthcare sector
Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, have been the center of attraction in recent times. While NFTs have gained popularity in artistic circles, their potential and capabilities are yet to be fully explored in certain sectors. From the entertainment industry to real estate, these digital ownership certificates are making their way into almost every industry. Most recently, NFTs are even influencing the healthcare sector, giving patients control over their medical data, preventing companies from profiting from it without their consent.
What is an NFT?
A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a unique digital certificate that leverages the power of blockchain technology. Crowned as Collins Dictionary’s word of the year, an NFT records the ownership of an asset like a painting or a collectible. As blockchain is the underlying technology, creating NFT tokens or transactions are similar to dealing in cryptocurrency.
To verify the validity of each transaction, NFTs rely on a decentralized network of computers and advanced cryptography. Harnessing the power of blockchain, NFTs ensure security and avoid counterfeit transactions.
Today, each industry understands the value of data and the profits it can bring them. The health sector is no different. Today, health apps and various devices with sensors collect vital data to enter into the healthcare system for better diagnoses. But is our data really safe? Often, the companies that handle our healthcare data profit from it, unknown to us. For example, the data of our blood sugar or other health indicators is sold to pharmaceutical companies,without our consent, to help them research, develop, and market their drugs. With NFTs , we can make sure that the use of our data lies in our hands.
Potential of NFTs in healthcare
Just like in the art, entertainment, or real estate industries, NFTs are steadily making their way into the healthcare industry and changing it for good. With the security and privacy of our medical data under question, experts believe that NFTs are an answer to the misuse of personal medical information.
Though NFTs are a relatively new technology, the healthcare sector has found innovative ways to use them to benefit patients and offer them a new and unique solution.
Transparency of health records
Private institutions and companies can misuse patients’ health data for monetary gains. The patients who rightfully own the information, are often unaware of this misuse. Here’s a scenario to illustrate the issue. . When ordering a DNA kit or nutrient test from a private company, the data they collect is vital to create a tailor-made genetic-based diet plan at a relatively affordable price. However, unknown to you, the company might sell your data to a research lab or other interested third-party vendors. The company could make millions off your data without your knowledge. Even worse, the longer this data passes along the transaction chain, the greater the risk of your information being mishandled.
Enter NFTs. As NFTs exist on the blockchain, you can use it to create transactions that cannot be altered or duped. Let’s apply this to the previously described scenario. . If you mint your genetic data or lab results in NFTs, you can track the usage of your private information. You will possess full ownership of the data, certified by the NFT authentication. You will have clarity on the data’s status and who uses the data without your permission. Additionally, you can even monetize your data each time a transaction occurs. The price of your health records is now in your hands alone.
With NFT certification and the power of the underlying blockchain technology, patient records have greater transparency. As a patient, you have greater control over your health records and some control over how your private medical information is used
Virtual clinics in the metaverse
The rise of the metaverse has caused ripples in every industry, spurring businesses to innovate and create a whole new customer experience. The healthcare sector is no exception. Doctors and hospitals can create clinics in the virtual world, where patients can come for consultations. NFTs play a crucial role in building these virtual clinics and consultations.
In December 2021, a group of doctors on TikTok and Instagram came together for an NFT project named MetaDocs. Tired of the existing healthcare system, the aim of the project was to circumvent the bureaucracy of the existing medical system. MetaDocs spoke against high healthcare costs and the lack of insurance coverage. In no time, MetaDocs became a hit sensation, with users flocking to its service.
MetaDocs lets their users purchase NFT-based avatars of 3D-rendered doctor characters, including ones with a test hammer or standing in front of an ultrasonic hammer. The exact price of these NFTs has not been finalized yet. According to speculation, the price of each NFT is 0.2 ETH, which is equivalent to $570 (around 540 Euros). By purchasing one, the customer gets a set of heart tokens, which are basically transferable tickets similar to NFTs. Using these heart tokens, the patient can consult a doctor via email or direct message, participate in group or one-on-one “ask me anything” sessions, attend special virtual conferences, and get discounts on tests, medical equipment, and clothes.
MetaDocs does not have a legal license yet, which means that the doctors cannot yet prescribe a patient medicines or perform surgeries. However, the potential of clinics like MetaDocs that operate in the metaverse is huge. People see these virtual clinics as a more transparent alternative to the current healthcare system. The healthcare system could become decentralized, and allow people to get concierge healthcare services from any part of the globe.
The most valuable feature that these virtual clinics in the metaverse offer are the connection between the doctors and patients. The gap between the clinics and the patients is shorter, and virtual clinics make the new healthcare system accessible for everyone. In coming years, we could witness the rise of more clinics in the metaverse, powered by NFTs and cryptocurrencies, offering better and more transparent medical services.
Giving blood is truly a noble deed. But how sure are we that the blood we donate goes to those who need it and is not misused? Tokenizing blood using NFT and blockchain technology ensures we know.
Blood banks and other donation organizations support the use of NFTs for tokenizing blood donations. When you donate blood, the organizations mark the samples with a specific NFT token which you can track throughout the system. The agency registers the blood to a digital blood bank using NFT and blockchain technology. You can track the use of blood samples right from transportation to the hospital to arrival at the blood bank and until they reach the recipient. Through this method, you personally ensure that the donated blood goes to the needy. In this world where greedy corporations misuse donated blood by illegally shipping it to pharmaceutical companies, or selling it on the black market, NFTs and blockchain are the answer to make the donation process foolproof and secure.
Counterfeit medicines are a recurring problem for pharmaceutical companies and patients. By streamlining the authentication process, NFTs and blockchain aid in the fight against these counterfeit drugs.
The NFT creates a unique token ID for a particular drug, which remains the same throughout its lifetime, and the pharmaceutical firm logs the information of the drug in a blockchain-based record book. Pharmaceutical companies then streamline and trace the journey of the medicine.
This allows the company to identify counterfeit medicines on the black market rapidly and take them down with ease.
If a pharmaceutical company tries to recall a particular drug from the market, they can even trace people who have purchased the drug. The process of recalling the drug becomes even easier.
Although NFTs are still in their nascent stage, more businesses in the healthcare sector are expected to adopt this technology. With the control over medical data and ability to trace goods that NFTs enable , this technology is here to stay and create an impact in the industry.
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