The pressure on health teams and networks in recent months has been intense, pushing dedicated health professionals to their limits as they work tirelessly to fight COVID-19 in communities around the world. The crisis has spread to every aspect of society, highlighting apparent shortcomings within the traditional global health system, and highlighting the inherent need for technology-based initiatives that can reduce pressure on health professionals and ensure that patient data collection is as rational and safe as possible.
As someone who has long advocated the potential of blockchain technology to be a catalyst for change in a wide range of industries, I believe in the importance and new levels of efficiency, transparency and automation – the distinct advantages of distributed ledger technology – the future of global healthcare, especially from the point of view of data collection and nurturing. The patients.
Certainly, changing the way people care and how they interact with doctors will take years. Fortunately, this kind of significant change is within the blockchain. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the way patients interact with practitioners has changed dramatically. Natural caution prevented large sections of US citizens from visiting the medical facility of their choice. Since March 2020, virtual doctor visits in the United States have increased dramatically from 12,000 weekly to more than 1 million weekly. This general acceptance of telehealth shows what healthcare looks like in times of crisis, but this trend must continue after the pandemic to break down barriers to entry into our health systems and, most importantly, improve access to healthcare.
Blockchain can play a role in developing secure, decentralized platforms geared towards collecting sensitive patient data, thus enhancing patient choice in choosing a doctor based on their needs. This type of initiative is already on the market. Healthcare technology platform Solve.Care recently launched a global exchange dedicated to telehealth, a blockchain-based health platform that allows patients to access health services from anywhere in the world using their own mobile devices. A mainstream introduction will add a much-needed layer of liquidity to the healthcare sector, eliminating the need for patients to carefully remember their medical history, or retest if they find themselves in a different medical specialty, or if they suddenly find themselves consulting with a new practitioner.
This new reality will allow patients to consult with any number of physicians around the world. This would also give medical professionals the opportunity to practice a new field of telemedicine, broadening their own medical horizons, while serving a global community of patients from afar.
As businesses and citizens continue to press for a return to work and social conditions before the pandemic, we must make sure that revitalizing a regular rhythm of economic and professional activity is handled with care and tact. Intuitively, employers must do everything they can to ensure their employees return to work safely and securely in their local area. This means that employers need the tools to track and monitor COVID-19 cases in their workforce.
Blockchain-based solutions can enable real-time status updates regarding the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and help companies quickly collect case information and plan effectively. This focus on ‘tracking’ will be critical. Outside of the blockchain realm, technology-based solutions to contain the spread of the virus have made notable differences.
With Ireland’s successful launch of its national COVID-19 tracking app, one million people downloaded the app within the first week of its launch. It is estimated that around 1.5 million people have now downloaded the app, which is just under 33% of the country’s population. These types of apps, when replicated and approved around the world, will significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection surging. In Gibraltar, the government has successfully implemented a similar app-based system to ensure close communication