With blockchain technologies emerging, they’re exceptionally a great solution for sharing, securing, and verifying data in a digitally-connected era. Hence, blockchain is suitable for managing cross-border, inter-department, and multi-party transactions. Over the past decade, many organizations worldwide have assessed blockchain’s development with several concepts. However, its implementations are slow since many partners utilizing blockchain as a shared component have to correspond to business models, governance, and Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Aside from that, government rules and regulations have also hampered its global use.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has revealed numerous incidents where distributed ledger technology specifically blockchain technology can immediately address urgent global needs, and quick responses, especially in the healthcare aspects. Hence, the pandemic has exposed the shortcomings in the global supply chains, challenges in storing and sharing data required to make prompt decisions, and the inability to utilize resources where they are critically needed to address health protocols.
While most people are completely clueless about what blockchain is, blockchain has been under implementation for several years and redefined to address the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. With blockchain technology, several opportunities are being implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Let's highlight everything you need to know regarding how blockchain is coping up with COVID-19.
With the government’s initiative to flatten the curve, they have looked for ways and implemented contact tracing measures to identify the coverage of infected individuals. However, contact tracing measures require the gathering of sensitive information about infected people to determine their activities in a given timeframe. As a result, government sectors have considered initiatives for data and privacy management.
Speaking of privacy, blockchain technology offers assurances by decentralizing the storage of sensitive information and maintaining it with the user only. For instance, Coalition has recently launched an app in the U.S. where users can self-report if they are feeling unwell. The app notifies other people of possible interactions with an infected individual and delivers suitable healthcare procedures. With Coalition, the platform uses cryptography and Bluetooth-enabled integration to monitor encounters. Aside from that, the app generates random anonymous IDs to protect an individual’s identity, utilizing the local data from the user’s smartphone.
Data Collection for Future Research
With the COVID19 pandemic, a key component of milestone is in the access, collection, and aggregation of sensitive data required to track the virus, evaluate trends, and facilitate the essential research to appropriately respond to the health crisis. In case you didn’t know, WHO has collaborated with government sectors, and major tech companies to develop MiPasa, a blockchain-powered international communication, and control system. With MiPasa, it has initiated early detection of COVID19 infection epicenters, and carriers through private and seamless data sharing between healthcare facilities, state authorities, and individuals.
In addition, blockchain technology serves as the groundwork for developing a research network. Through this network, organizations can share their data with innovators and researchers to integrate and test this data into new resources and solutions. Hence, blockchain-enabled systems advocate auditability, consent management, and data ownership to authorize versatile sharing in a variety of regulatory settings.
Clinical Credentialing Management
The COVID19 pandemic has revealed more challenges when it comes to identity management. As a result, blockchain solutions have become popular to address these issues. With healthcare professionals and clinicians volunteering at medical facilities to lighten workforce demands, many issues with verifying credentials in an urgent manner have become rampant. That said, numerous blockchain solutions are already in progress, or have organized a consortium of members with credential data to streamline the system.
Supply Chain Management
As healthcare facilities have adjusted to disruptions and deal with high demands for equipment such as PPEs and ventilators, new companies and even scammers who take advantage of the circumstances, supply chain management has been crucial in every country’s response to COVID19. Speaking of blockchain solutions, research and use cases regarding supply chain management are significantly more mature within the healthcare facilities and other essential industries. Aside from that, they have shifted or scaled focus to cater to the urgent pandemic-related needs. Due to technology’s role in combating the virus, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has listed blockchain organizations in agriculture and food as essential infrastructure workers.
In some instances, market suppliers have streamlined their current blockchain-enabled platform to help connect healthcare organizations and non-traditional medical suppliers to reliable sources for essential medical supplies and PPEs. With the tool, both suppliers and buyers have obtained a comprehensive overview of inventory in a reliable and transparent manner.
Current medical devices and pharmaceutical companies are also mobilized in the COVID19 pandemic. With the Food and Drug Association’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act pilot initiative, numerous blockchain-enabled solutions have successfully highlighted solutions for monitoring a pharmaceutical creation’s timeline and origin from development to application, last-mile tracking of medicines from pharmaceutical companies to patient management, and monitoring changes in ownership of prescribed medications. That said, these blockchain solutions are expected to play a fundamental role in the supply chain within pharmaceutical industries as part of the response to the global health crisis.
At the fundamental aspect, blockchain technology has indeed helped in coping up with the pandemic. However, like any new development, many uncertainties and questions delay the scalability and implementation of these new blockchain-enabled solutions.
While we’re living in uncertain times, and rush innovations are costly, education and thorough consideration for healthcare facilities implementing blockchain solutions are still important. Before a careful assessment is facilitated to identify if these solutions are appropriate, companies or organizations must have a general overview and comprehension of blockchain’s capabilities, highlighting the facts vs. the hype of this new technology. Aside from that, numerous assumptions are developed about what blockchain solutions can and cannot offer.
In addition, blockchain technology needs a paradigm and cultural transition toward collective understanding and collaboration across several entities. Blockchain technology administers a system that lets companies participate in collaborative efforts without risking proprietary data and intellectual properties. However, it will still have a long way to go and will require a purposeful change in behavior to effectively work in many business interests toward a shared target.