Technological innovation in the healthcare industry has led to monumental changes in our understanding of the human body and how to treat ailments that were previously considered untreatable. However, even with all of this technological innovation, the healthcare system has a major crack that often leads to mis-diagnosis that, in many cases, result in a longer time to recovery for patients and, in some cases, result in death. So, what’s the problem? 

Data accessibility!

Your healthcare data is privileged data that’s protected not only by moral obligation but by law. That sounds great until you realize that doctors often have a hard time communicating information from one to another for fear of legal recourse. 

Think of it this way, if you have a condition that mimics the symptoms of another condition and are unconscious, you may receive the wrong treatment because the physician in the emergency room doesn’t have access to the information surrounding your underlying condition. 

Unfortunately, healthcare data is largely fragmented, creating issues for patients and physicians. 

Really, How Big Can This Issue Be?

With the healthcare industry evolving so rapidly over the past few decades, how big can a data issue really be? The numbers might actually shock you. Take a look below:

  • The Majority of Data Is Unstructured. About 80% of healthcare data is either unstructured or locked away. That’s a major shocker when you consider the fact that more than $1.2 billion is spent on the production and storage of clinical documents annually in the United States. 
  • Billions Are Spent on Unnecessary Treatments. In the United States, it is estimated that $750 billion is spent each year on unnecessary treatments. The vast majority of these unnecessary treatments are believed to be prescribed as a result of misdiagnosis or are redundant as a result of poor data management. 

In fact, according to Karly Rowe, VP at Experian Health, patient data tracking is worrying to say the least. Here’s what she had to say:

Many healthcare organizations still don’t have a comprehensive patient identity management strategy in place. Inaccurate or incomplete patient information poses serious, even fatal, risks to patients.

NFTs Have the Potential to Solve This Problem

Technological innovation isn’t expected to slow down in the healthcare industry any time soon, and the introduction of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, can make the difference between a fragmented patient data system where inadequacies lead to improper treatments and a streamlined way for physicians to access the data they need in a secure and compliant way. In fact, at least three different companies are working on solving this issue as we speak:

  • Aimedis. Aimedis has created an in-house NFT marketplace that allows patients to access their data as NFTs. This data is all stored securely on the blockchain and can easily be forwarded to doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals. 
  • Enjin. Through a partnership with Health Hero that was formed in June, Enjin plans on creating a platform known as Go! In the platform, users will be able to create well-being NFTs, also known as W-NFTs, that are unique to the user’s health and activity characteristics. As is the case with Aimedis’ patient data NFTs, the data stored in these W-NFTs will be easily transferable from patient to healthcare provider. 
  • RightsHash. Finally, RightsHash is a decentralized software engine that aims to track and manage patient consent for clinical trials. 

On the topic of clinical trials, many believe that NFTs will soon help in the development of new therapeutic options. After all, it’s possible for any of the platforms above to give users an option to make their data available to therapeutic developers and researchers, making the data these life savers need easily accessible. 

These Solutions Could Ease Pressure on the United States Economy While Resulting in Better Healthcare Outcomes

The care-related implications of this type of technology are clear. With better access to data, physicians will have a more clear understanding of how to treat their patients regardless of the condition and unique situation. This will lead to better outcomes for patients due to the avoidance of unnecessary treatments and the potential side effects that come along with them as well as the ability to ensure that necessary therapeutics are prescribed. 

However, the economic implications of this type of technology are important to consider as well. Keep in mind around $750 billion, that’s with a B, will be spent on unnecessary treatments this year with the majority of that spending being the result of inadequate patient data. That’s quite a bit of economic pressure on the United States and a relatively fragile healthcare system. NFTs ultimately have the potential to relieve much of that pressure. 

The Bottom Line

When we think of NFTs, we often think of art, entertainment, and gaming, but this technology has the potential to provide solutions far beyond these industries. Crucial industries like healthcare, finance, and infrastructure could all benefit from the use of this technology, only adding to the potential these non-fungible tokens have to change the digital and data world as we know it.