Even if bitcoin and the cryptocurrency trend turns out to be a massive bubble, the technology that supports the new sector may be here to stay. Blockchain technology has already seen many broad applications in areas separate from cryptocurrency, according to a report by CoinSpeaker. (See also: 6 Ways Cryptocurrencies Make the World a Better Place.)
Now, one of the oldest and most staid sectors in the financial world – healthcare – may see fundamental changes as a result of the technology.
Security, Data, Networking
As an industry, healthcare may be primed for disruption by a technology like blockchain. The industry is, by nature, closely linked with some of the facets that distributed ledgers and smart contracts were designed to enhance. These include security restrictions, shareable data, networking, and consistent, reliable service.
While traditional models of infrastructure have worked to bring the healthcare industry to where it is today, many analysts see these systems as expensive, outdated, and susceptible to failure. Old technology systems that are put to the test by increasing amounts of data and stringent industry standards have not served to improve patient care, the argument goes.
Consulting firm Deloitte believes that "blockchain technology has the potential to transform healthcare, placing the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data."
ICOs Linked to Health Care Proliferate
ICOs, the initial coin offering launches which have become the trendy new way to launch blockchain-based startups, are increasingly focused on health care products and services. There are already many other healthcare-focused digital tokens and coins which have been launched in the past year, and ICO alert suggests that many more are on the way.
One of these upcoming launches, called BlockMedX, aims to address the rampant opioid crisis in the U.S. The service is designed to be used by physicians and pharmacies to help increase security and accountability in the prescription drug industry. BlockMedX analyzes millions of prescriptions to find concerns, helping to protect patients in the process. (See also: Can Blockchain Make Medications Cheaper and Safer?)
Dentacoin, a cryptocurrency which launched last fall and which has a market cap of nearly $2 billion, aims to revitalize the dental industry, making changes to directories, review board procedures, and payment systems.
Medicalchain, on the other hand, uses blockchain technology to store and share health records securely, allowing for easy and safe transfer of information between providers and patients.
These are just a small sample of some of the new ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are in the works and which could shake up the health care sector. Will every new launch upend the existing industry? That's unlikely. However, if even a few successfully take hold, the health care world in the years to come may look dramatically different from the one of a few years ago, or even of the one today. (See also: CDC Is Testing Blockchain Projects to Manage Pandemics.)
Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns cryptocurrencies.