Medical Records and Rx Drugs on the Blockchain
Factom Inc., a Blockchain as a Service (Baas) company just got a boost in fulfilling their mission “to create a more honest world”. Today, the company announced its approval of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in an undisclosed amount. Factom, Latin for “anything stated and made certain”, is building technology to distribute records globally that can be accessed anywhere by any authorized user, through biometric verification. This digital fingerprint allows medical information to be stored on blockchain’s immutable ledger, allowing ease of access while also protecting patient privacy.
The current traditional method of storing medical records can come in two different forms. Patients’ medical records could be stored through an antiquated paper-file storage system housed inside of a clinic, or they can become digitized on that clinic’s central server. In the case of the outdated paper file system, accessibility is difficult when dealing with more than one physician. In the case of digitized records, it can help in terms of sharing through various computers inside the clinic or within the medical group, but falls short when it comes to cross sharing between various physicians that are housed outside of that particular clinic.
Patients who wish to travel between clinics that do not share digitized medical records, encounter problems such as not being able to provide a full medical record, or in some cases have no access to their pharmaceutical history and prescriptions at all. In more complex situations, patients who travel outside their native country for leisure or temporary relocation, are faced with the difficulty of accessing their records back home. By utilizing the blockchain technology, Factom provides crucial and easily accessible medical data to patients in both developed and underdeveloped countries in real time, through a decentralized digitized record.
An example of this technology would involve a doctor using a smartphone to determine if a child has received the proper vaccinations against deadly diseases or not. In remote villages where medical records are poorly kept (if at all), physicians could scan a patient’s fingerprint that would decrypt their bio information and health records. This new technology will save lives across the globe, reduce costs, and improve medical care to those most in need.
Another important blockchain breakthrough in the medical industry is Chronicled’s new CryptoSeal. Essentially, prescription drug containers would include a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip embedded with unique identity information.
Maksym Petkus, one of Chronicled’s software engineers, stated on the Chronicled blog:
“We can now put a tiny computer chip with cryptographic identity into a slim adhesive seal strip form factor to secure a package, enabling mathematically and cryptographically closed loop integration with the blockchain and secure high-value assets with this tamper-evident technology.”
This state-of-the-art tech ensures that prescription containers are not opened, modified, or tampered with. If the antenna in the CryptoSeal is broken at any time, it becomes impossible to verify the chip inside, ensuring that patients receive legitimate pharmaceuticals.
Because counterfeit drugs are major blight on the pharmaceutical industry, CryptoSeal like Factom, has the potential to save lives, costs, and decrease pill abuse and dependency. According to Newsweek, Interpol’s pharmaceutical investigation, Operation Pangea seized 2.4 million fake pills in 2011, and in 2015, that number jumped to 20.7 million.
The need to provide the medical and pharmaceutical industries with better record-keeping services allows for blockchain companies to step in and revamp the current models fraught with deficiencies. Along with streamlining these processes, blockchain tech like CryptoSeal could greatly decrease prescription drug abuse in the US which equates to less overdoses and crime by tracking potential abusers. With increased support and grants from foundations and other credited institutions, blockchain technology becomes a legitimate avenue to be explored by industry leaders looking for improved business solutions and better customer care.
More and more real world applications for blockchain are entering the global marketplace every day. The dream of the Ethereum Network to shape a safer world is steadily becoming a reality.