Blockchain can save lives

Soon emer­gency doc­tors will be able to in­stantly iden­tify pa­tients and call up their health records

Cape Argus - - METRO -

I’VE said this be­fore, and I’m say­ing it again: blockchain and bit­coin are not the same thing. Bit­coin is a type of cryp­tocur­rency, while blockchain is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary way to se­curely store valu­able in­for­ma­tion.

Cryp­tocur­ren­cies have gained a lot of neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity re­cently, due in large part to their wildly volatile prices, but also due to re­ports of cryp­tocur­rency theft to the value of over $1bil­lion (R14bn) in 2018.

This is par­tic­u­larly alarm­ing for a cur­rency that was touted as be­ing blockchain-based, and hence su­per­se­cure. I have noth­ing against cryp­tocur­ren­cies; I be­lieve they are great in the­ory, even though they do have some un­re­solved is­sues. But in time, they might evolve to a point where the­ory be­comes a prac­ti­cal re­al­ity.

The dan­ger of lump­ing cryp­tocur­ren­cies and blockchain to­gether as if they are the same thing, is that when crypto takes a beat­ing, so does blockchain, and peo­ple will fail to see its in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial as a stand-alone tech­nol­ogy. Blockchain tech­nol­ogy is also in its in­fancy, but it has al­ready shown tremen­dous po­ten­tial in a num­ber of in­dus­tries.

In my pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle, I de­scribed the blockchain-based con­cept app Na­tional Ve­hi­cle Ledger, or NAVEL, that can trans­form the mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­dus­try by re­mov­ing the el­e­ment of chance when buy­ing a used ve­hi­cle.

Although NAVEL doesn’t yet ex­ist, there are a num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions where blockchain is al­ready pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions to age-old prob­lems, such as in the health­care in­dus­try.

As an ex­am­ple, let’s say there’s been a se­ri­ous car crash, and the driver is un­con­scious. He is in a se­ri­ous con­di­tion and needs ur­gent at­ten­tion; but to ad­min­is­ter any first aid, paramedics need vi­tal health in­for­ma­tion such as his blood type, al­ler­gies and any other in­for­ma­tion that might help them to sta­bilise him. They do not have that in­for­ma­tion on the scene; even iden­ti­fy­ing the vic­tim is a chal­lenge.

At the hos­pi­tal, doc­tors face the same chal­lenge be­cause his vi­tal in­for­ma­tion lies in a myr­iad data­bases be­long­ing to var­i­ous doc­tors and hospi­tals. This is an all too fa­mil­iar sce­nario, and the de­lays could eas­ily lead to death,.

For­tu­nately, there is a so­lu­tion on the hori­zon. Soon, doc­tors and EMR teams will be able to in­stantly iden­tify pa­tients and call up all their vi­tal in­for­ma­tion. All they will have to do is to scan the pa­tient’s retina or fin­ger­prints and im­me­di­ately get ac­cess to per­sonal de­tails, next of kin, and most im­por­tantly, vi­tal med­i­cal records. With in­for­ma­tion like this at their fin­ger­tips, they will be able to save many more lives.

The tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate this so­lu­tion is out there, but the real chal­lenge is the scat­tered data. Blockchain tech­nol­ogy can solve this prob­lem by con­sol­i­dat­ing the data into one highly se­cure place, mak­ing it eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to autho­rised peo­ple.

A start-up called Sim­ply Vi­tal Health has al­ready im­ple­mented a so­lu­tion called Health Nexus that pro­vides blockchain-based, de­cen­tralised pa­tient records. This is a step in the right di­rec­tion, and it will only be a mat­ter of time be­fore this con­cept gains trac­tion.

Blockchain, like most tech­nolo­gies, just needs time to evolve to its full po­ten­tial.

KAREN SANDISON African News Agency (ANA)

BLOCKCHAIN-based apps can trans­form the mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­dus­try by re­mov­ing the el­e­ment of chance when buy­ing a used ve­hi­cle. They can also trans­form the health in­dus­try and oth­ers, says the writer. |

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.