It has been more than ten years since Satoshi Nakamoto first introduced the original white paper blockchain, although the crypto-that put the technology in the spotlight intensified at a later stage in this journey.
Despite being around for a long time, blockchain remains a mythical technology incomprehensible in the public eye. Major institutions and companies tend to perceive blockchain as an immature phenomenon, the benefits of which are abstract and unenforceable, although upon closer inspection this generalization does not hold.
Basic advantages of Blockchain: immutability and speed
Essentially, the blockchain represents an immutable book that cannot be hacked by design (needless to say, no other financial system has achieved these levels of security). For this reason, blockchain has been at the forefront of the mass decentralization movement, popularizing the idea throughout the network.
Importantly, no central authority controls the blockchain. Instead, it is based on consensus protocols across a network of nodes: if you connect any, it will not collapse the entire system and cause blocks to fall.
In addition, the technology allows for much faster transactions. It takes a few minutes to send bitcoins anywhere in the world, compared to the 2-5 business days that conventional banks require for cross-border transactions.
In short, blockchain represents the new distribution of value: it allows almost everyone to disseminate their information freely and without borders.
The blockchain can affect the healthcare industry?
As mentioned above, many companies still seem puzzled as to how a blockchain could benefit them, and health seems to be a prime example.
Healthcare is an industry where many institutions can process patients’ medical records, for example, private or public hospitals and clinics, general practitioners and analysis laboratories. Therefore, there is a demand for easy and secure access to this information, and this is where the blockchain comes in.
In fact, there have been concrete blockchain use cases the healthcare industry: for example, the MedRec startup of Ethereum uses smart contracts to link healthcare providers, allowing them to share medical data with each other. Another company called Medicalchain uses an authorized blockchain to guarantee additional levels of protection of patient data, allowing them to control the permissions to their health records.
But once a clinic decides to manage its medical records through a blockchain, it runs the risk of severe limitations.
Imagine the following situation: a patient walks into a local hospital. After providing the initial treatment, the doctors realize that you must be transferred to a specialized treatment center. Both the hospital and the treatment center store patient data on their blockchains to ensure that the data is immutable and highly private. However, their ledgers are not supported – the hospital records are on Ethereum, while the treatment center uses EOS for this purpose. As a result, the whole idea of using the technology is defeated, as the data cannot be transferred in the first place.
There is a solution
However, this situation can be solvable: a project called Wanchai is developing a solution to the problem of blockchain interoperability. Wanchai is a cross-chain blockchain infrastructure designed to facilitate asset transfer and host DAPP, according to its white paper . It was founded in 2017 by Jack Lu, a cryptocurrency veteran who had previously worked as a former co-founder and CTO of Factom, among other projects.
Wanchai’s design revolves largely around an inter-chain communication protocol. In the most basic sense, this protocol enables connectionless transfer of data between blockchains.
To achieve this, Wanchai would have used smart contracts, which allow data to be transferred securely from a chain and subsequently represented in the WAN chain. Consequently, it could help to transcribe the medical history using a cross-chain protocol in such a situation with the hospital and the treatment center.
In theory, a solution like Wanchains’ enables cross-blockchain connectivity, which not only solves the specific problem of medical record distribution, but unleashes more opportunities for interoperability and seamless data transfers in other industries, such as healthcare. food logistics or insurance, for example. .
In fact, the startup’s plans seem ambitious. “We want to connect not only with public channels, but also with private channels, as well as with fiat currency,” Lu said has told the media .
Changing healthcare (and much more) with blockchain is not a distant concept
Therefore, there are at least three ways that the blockchain can benefit the healthcare industry and all of these solutions are already applicable or will be implemented in the near future: smart contracts can be used to link healthcare providers, an authoritative blockchain can empower patients with control over their private data, while a cross-chain technology can support all possible DLT-based solutions.
Considering the examples listed, it seems safe to assume that blockchain adoption is not far off, as the technology is already mature enough to bring its security and trademark immutability to the healthcare industry and possibly many others.