The manufacturing and patient-tailored administration of pharmaceuticals made possible by blockchain technology is a reality we are all soon to experience. A prototype app, called ‘MedBlockChain,’ developed by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, places this power in our hands.
Power to the Patient
The app, as stated by Technology Networks, means “patients will be able to scan a medication and receive confirmation that it is a genuine product and not a fake item.” This issue of counterfeit pharmaceuticals it particularly prone to affect patients in developing nations.
This app empowers patents to own and take advantage of their own medical data. The article states:
“…patients can choose to provide access to a range of personal data – everything from heart rate monitor watches, pedometers and internet-connected bath scales to genetic profiles, screen time and social media usage – all contributing with knowledge that can enable computer systems based on artificial intelligence to gradually pin down the optimal dose for each patient.”
The published article, Cryptopharmaceuticals: Increasing the Safety of Medication by a Blockchain of Pharmaceutical Products, adds that “This technology is based on the concept where each produced dosage unit has a unique information-rich pattern” drawn from a patient-specific blockchain.
The article notes another major need for their prototype in this industry in the digital economy: “The current way of manufacturing pharmaceutical products and related existing logistic solutions is not ready for such a revolution.” By utilizing blockchain technology and adopting a distributed model makes “it possible to dramatically reduce the overall price of medicine while also improving the safety and efficacy of the medication” as lead researcher Prof. Jukka Rantanen in the Technology News article.
Beyond securing medical data, blockchain technology can used for supply chain management. From beginning to end, medical equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals can all be tracked and recorded on an immutable ledger. Specialty information, such as if the temperature lowered below a certain degree while in transit, can be recorded.
The Rise of Blockchain in Healthcare
Estimates quantifying the impact of distributed ledger, or blockchain, technology show a potentially huge impact. For instance, one study found blockchain in the healthcare industry could save up to $100 billion per year by 2025. Additionally, it was found elsewhere that 80% of the current cost and time associated with credentialing physicians would be eliminated.
While more projects and prototypes emerge, it is important
to keep in perspective how close much of this is to becoming a reality.