Blockchain and COVID-19 | What’s happening? What’s next?
- 1 What is Blockchain in simple words?
- 2 Blockchain and COVID-19 | What’s happening?
- 3 Blockchain applications in Healthcare
- 4 Blockchain applications in Healthcare | Estonia
- 5 Blockchain and COVID 19 | Applications and examples
- 6 Blockchain and COVID 19 | Opportunities and uses
- 7 Blockchain and COVID-19 | What’s next?
- 8 Blockchain experts
What is Blockchain in simple words?
Blockchain is a type of DLT that offers a solution for decentralizing data, complete traceability, and immutability of the information contained in each block.
The objective of this technology is to generate trust between unknown parties, transparency, and security in transactions.
Blockchain and COVID-19 | What’s happening?
However, those health systems, both public and private, that already had a somewhat digital structure, that is, Digital Health or e-Health tools, such as the management of appointments or, more recently, the option to self-schedule for vaccination, have undoubtedly streamlined the process a lot but – and it is evident – none of this was fully enough.
And we notice it more when, for example, we compare the level of health digitization of Spain, against countries such as Denmark, Sweden, or Germany. The latter has been and continues to be an absolute pioneer in matters of digital health and health apps. As a matter of fact, in November 2019 the German Parliament promulgated the Digital Healthcare Act, a law that, with a budget of 200 million euros, was committed to carrying out the complete digitization of the national health system so that all patients can access it quickly, efficiently and, above all, safely. ‘It is the end to the paper chaos‘, as defined by the local media, highlighting that it is not an option, but an imposition that came into effect at the end of 2020 for pharmacies and hospitals in Germany.
Blockchain applications in Healthcare
The Germans have made it very clear: ‘All types of digital health services must comply with the highest standards of telematic security of patient information.’ Personal data related to health are considered extremely sensitive and after the publication of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), both the doctor and the health center – whether public or private – must safeguard the patient’s clinical history, implementing all the necessary security measures so that it is not lost or accessed by third parties.
You might be asking yourself ‘but, let’s see, who would be interested in stealing my health folder?’. True. Normally we are more concerned with the security of our bank details. But let’s not forget that this folder not only contains personal data (which are already a decilious dish for identity theft) but also banking data: do you have private insurance? Have you ever been asked for your bank account number? There you go.
So it is clear that the use of blockchain in the healthcare sector is something that we are going to need more and more. When it comes to digitization, innovation, and security, it is impossible not to refer to the fundamental role that Blockchain has and, above all, will continue to have in our society for this purpose.
Blockchain applications in Healthcare | Estonia
However, it should be noted that the use of Blockchain in the healthcare system is not something new. Quite the opposite. There is a European country that understood this need long ago, a nation that has been investing in e-Health for years and that, with good reason, is today considered the most digital country in the world: Estonia. Exactly that’s it. Its capital, Tallinn, despite having less than 500 thousand inhabitants, already in the early ’90s began to earn the nickname of the ‘Silicon Valley of the Baltic’ since 99% of the bureaucracy and public services are digitized.
A curiosity, to understand it better: do you remember when in 2003 we already had the first online videocalls to and from anywhere in the world thanks to Skype? Well, this revolutionary software was developed exactly in Tallinn more than 18 years ago.
Estonia understood the power of Blockchain applied to healthcare as early as 2002 when the Digital ID was first introduced so that citizens could vote and pay taxes. In addition, Estonia has been the first country in the world to provide an EHR (Electronic Health Record) service, that is, the digital tracking of medical records.
In 2011, it was time for Estonia to strengthen the security of this health service by inventing and adopting the first Blockchain system from KSI (Keyless Signature Infrastructure) that made use of cryptography with a hash function. But already in 2016, the Estonian e-health foundation took another step into the future by offering citizens a health service that, thanks to the use of the blockchain, guarantees impeccable security of their health data and, above all, incredible adaptability according to each specific digital ID.
It was not only an incredible achievement against cybersecurity attacks but a giant step towards concepts such as digital society and digital identity.
Blockchain and COVID 19 | Applications and examples
Now, let’s have a look at what is happening today. As we already know, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken not only the world economy but also – or especially – the international health system.
Health systems that already had a very advanced digitization process, such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Estonia itself, were undoubtedly already used to managing many channels according to state-of-the-art standards. Even if no country emerged unscathed from such a devastating calamity, indeed, nations with already advanced eHealth, mHealth, or eSocial Care tools have worked quickly and effectively, guaranteeing remote medical assistance to patients from a distance.
eHealth Apps & Platforms
This type of project will have great growth in the coming years until, probably, changing our perception of medicine and healthcare.
Here are some of the best known digital health platforms in Northern Europe:
- Finland: Klinikhealthcare, KaikuHealth y VideoVisit.
- Denmark: Columna Cura y OpenTeleHealth.
- Norway: Motitech.
- Sweden: Coalalife y Cambio CDS Clinical Decision Support
Blockchain and COVID 19 | Opportunities and uses
Blockchain and COVID-19: what benefits and opportunities can Blockchain technology bring in the fight against coronavirus? And – even more important – what role is Blockchain going to play in trying to get our society back to ‘normal’?
We’ll see just some examples of Blockchain uses that are taking place in these times of coronavirus and vaccination.
Clinical Trial Management System:
A Clinical Trial Management System is essential software for both the pharmaceutical industries and clinical research to carry out all the clinical trial phases necessary for the approval and launch of a new pharmacological product into the market. A very realistic example is what is happening with vaccines against COVID-19. It is no coincidence that Pfizer is already a member of MediLedger, a decentralized network project specific to the pharmaceutical industry, based on Blockchain, which streamlines and ensures the security of clinical trials. In addition, in the wake of the pandemic, with the 2020 update of the US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), suppliers must authenticate and verify the drugs they sell to consumers. To this end, using the blockchain would mean: reducing the time required to locate, trace and track inventory in real-time; collect all kinds of the necessary information and distribute it among the participants in a reliable and secure procedure.
Pharmaceutical Supply Chain:
Adopting Blockchain solutions during COVID-19 is guaranteeing much faster time optimization, data security, and validation processes. Official data haven’t been published yet but, it is important to highlight what has happened to the KN95 masks from China: the Singaporean Blockchain platform, VeChain has been and continues to be fundamental in the secure supply, tracking, registration, and certification of this type of medical device worldwide.
Fighting an Infodemic in the Time of the COVID-19:
Coronavirus not only caused the outbreak of a viral pandemic but, at the same time, the pandemic of misinformation about COVID-19: conspiracies, bacteriological warfare, 5G .. .etc. And the most concerning thing is that this infodemic has also crept into institutions and the health sector itself, directly ‘infecting’ politicians, scientists, and health workers with hoaxes, fake news, and much more. This is precisely why world organizations such as the WHO and the UN call out for a quick and effective solution to infodemic. The blockchain gives us, once again, the opportunity to track information, ensure its veracity and share it safely with institutions and governments. In this regard, UN member states signed Resolution WHA73.1 underlining the importance of taking prompt action.
Monitoring COVID-19 vaccination:
Returning to the section on the use of Blockchain in the pharmaceutical supply chain, using this technology also allows monitoring the entire vaccination process, from the pharmaceutical producer, through the vaccination centers, to the vaccinated person. As we already know, blockchain allows signing smart contracts operations also among a large number of participants. And, of course, being the vaccine right now a very urgent product, this is essential to avoid the sale of fake vaccines, smuggling, and infiltration of illicit associations.
Blockchain and COVID-19 + IoT:
When talking about Blockchain, always remember that it is a technology that can enhance practically an infinite number of devices: from industrial tools to our very mobile. The implementation of IoT (Internet of Things) solutions is so present in our lives that we no longer pay attention to it. For example airports, stations, and even stores, sometimes today measure the temperature with cameras and thermal imaging sensors to allow access to the public. Then these same data are compared and evaluated with Artificial Intelligence algorithms. They are sent to various devices that register them, share them … All this is – very shortly – the incredible world of the Internet of Things. If we add to this the use of Blockchain, we will obtain a doubly efficient system. Another example: each type of vaccine needs a specific storage temperature to get preserved. Thanks to the combination of Blockchain and IoT, it is possible to monitor this temperature in real-time and throughout all the transportation and storage phases of the vaccination. If any participant in the smart contract finds out that there was an error, hospitals, and vaccination establishments, once informed, will be able to act promptly and avoid much worse damage.
Blockchain and COVID-19 | What’s next?
I have selected only the most striking blockchain use cases against COVID-19. But, in reality, countless projects have already been launched all over the world. No doubt it would have been much better not to go through all this sad period but, after all, the ‘strange couple’ of Blockchain and COVID-19 at least is something that has forced the technological community to act promptly.
Moreover, as estimated by the study carried out by the consultancy BIS Research, it is expected that by 2025 the global health sector will have already invested around 5 billion euros in Blockchain solutions.
Thus, it is clear what the Blockchain and COVID-19 relationship has taught us: the disruptive innovation taking place throughout this pandemic and that will advance over the next decades is no longer a utopia but pure history.
At Tribalyte Technologies we have a team of Blockchain experts and R&D engineers dedicated to the development of decentralized applications (DApps) on Blockchain. We implement all kinds of blockchain solutions and, in addition, we are proud partners of the Alastria association.
After everything we’ve seen so far, are you looking for Blockchain experts to develop your project? You just found them.