How Blockchain Tokenization Of Blood Can Revolutionize Healthcare
By Shriya Bhaumik, Research Analyst at Moving
The Indian healthcare system has been bereft of complications. The COVID-19 pandemic brought issues such as the requirement of affordable healthcare as well the scarcity of healthcare resources to the forefront and magnified it. It portrayed a gaping hole in a sector catering to people’s health which should’ve been near flawless.
Technological advancement has allowed us to understand how seamless healthcare operations globally can be conducted if information can be easily shared amongst healthcare providers. The faster the information is shared, the more accurate the diagnoses are leading to effective treatments. The way this can be cemented is through blockchain technology.
What is Blockchain Technology and How Does It Work?
Blockchain, also referred to as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is defined as a decentralized and distributed ledger that records the online footprints and transactions of digital assets on a real-time basis. Blockchains are powered by nodes, a network of computers around the globe. The nodes via mathematics verify and conduct transactions which are then turned into a block. These blocks of transactions are termed as valid and then added to the blockchain. Transactions in the blockchain are cryptographically connected to valid transactions that had taken place previously. This secures the entirety of the blockchain and links it together, mathematically.
What is Tokenization?
Tokenization is the conversion of sensitive, meaningful data into a unique form of identification, usually a string of symbols, numbers, and non-sensitive letters retaining the information in a secure way without compromising it. It converts physical and non-physical assets into digital tokens on the blockchain. Tokenization has existed since the 1970s and is majorly used to protect data for financial services such as credit card numbers and bank statements. Hospitals have also used tokenization to protect patient records via software programs that have utilized it to keep login credentials secure. Government bodies have also been known to tokenize voter registration.
Tokenization of Blood in Healthcare
An interesting usage of blockchain technology in recent times is that of the tokenization of blood with NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens).
Blockchain technology can allow health officials to track and trace blood donations and their supply chains in real-time. To be able to track and trace donated blood across systems, it must be tokenized first. Non-fungible tokens or NFTs can represent unique data and hold digital value. NFTs are majorly used to store digital art and within gaming, for in-game items to ensure that they are verifiably scarce and cannot be duplicated
The EY OpsChain blockchain can record all the data points between donated blood to the transfusion of blood. Beginning from the identification of the donor, temperature of the donated blood in transit, GPS location points from laboratory to hospital, and storage of information within medical records of patients receiving their transfusion. The blood is tokenized using a barcode that can be scanned and allows the production of real-time updates wherein necessary parties involved can view the same. The tokenization of blood on the blockchain allows for an inventory of blood donations that can be monitored accurately and allows the identification of shortages between regions or of specific blood types. It also leaves a small margin for error.
Most blood donations in India are carried out by various private or non-profit organizations wherein they set up camps to collect blood donations. A challenge that is noted while setting up a blood repository is donor authentication, their identification as well as priority donors based on past records. These challenges make it necessary for the creation of a centralized platform for blood donors and their records. While donated blood is always tested to make sure the quality is healthy and non-toxic, there are times it may cross these safety checks as well and for this reason, many are rooting for a blockchain-based technology that can help solve these challenges.
Accommodating blockchain with blood banks has been proven to have benefits as noticed through numerous initiatives with the UK-based, BloodChain. Benefits such as:
- Nodes will note donor histories within the blockchain
- Quality of blood can be noted by nodes within the blockchain
- Availability of blood in specific blood banks can be known
- Details of the blood at each stage can be verified
All in all, tokenization of blood within the healthcare system has the potential to drastically set off changes on not only the blood bank system and how it works but also organ donations and consequently, how the medical infrastructure conducts itself.