Blockchain and Emerging Health Systems


This post outlines four main areas where Blockchain innovators are developing projects in emerging health systems.

Cash Transfers: Humanitarian organisations have been using blockchains in proof-of-concept studies in digital identity and cash transfers since 2016. 

Tracking Donor Funds Through Smart Contracts: Using smart contracts, Blockchain can ensure that donor funds reach intended recipients in a transparent way without middlemen and leakage along the way. Aid delivery can be tracked with transparently recorded “weigh-stations” showing location in the supply chain and ultimate delivery. 

 Remittances: Digital currency remittances can move funds from remitter or donor to recipient almost instantaneously with low transaction costs. Blockchain can reduce the transaction costs for remittances, providing the unbanked access to financial systems and ensuring that funds intended for the poor actually reach them. 

Patient Management – Data and Health Records: Blockchains offer a solution that not only enables secure data exchange but that places a person’s health records more within their reach and control, rather than being fragmented and inaccessible. Medical histories on a Blockchain cannot be lost or altered without the patient’s permission and the patient can have access via a mobile app. 

Continuity of Care in Mobile Populations: Blockchains combined with biometrics can protect portable identities and privacy and improve the interoperability of health records. 

Health Payment Systems: Blockchain can enable automatic adjudication of claims and direct payment processes and reduce the number of intermediaries that exist today which lead to more streamlined transactions. Blockchain also has the potential also to be used for the automated validation of claims, which may increase the efficiency and security of the payment process. The software can store encrypted patient identifiers, health plan information, and provider claims within a blockchain that is shared by payers and providers, enabling near real-time automatic claims processing, eligibility verification, and preauthorization. 

 Supply Chains for Distribution of Vaccines and Medical Supplies : Fake drugs can be a major issue in emerging markets where there is poor regulation and certification, and Blockchain offers a supply chain solution which allows end-to-end track and trace. Blockchains rely on sophisticated algorithms to create unbreakable codes and consensus rules for a distributed ledger—a file much like a database–that reflects transactions or transfers of assets (blocks) in chronological order (the chain). 

Self Sovereign Identity: Identity is a fundamental human right still, many millions of people worldwide do not have a legal identity. The potential to confer a permanent, immutable record of identity on a  Blockchain owned by individuals could be game changing. Without identity, the poor and vulnerable may be denied access to government services, finance and fundamental human rights.   

Blockchain and other frontier technologies have real potential to solve a number of  long standing problems in delivery of health care in emerging markets. 

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