The Future: Healthcare, Blockchain & MachineFi Converge

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by Andy Watson · 7 min read
The Future: Healthcare, Blockchain & MachineFi Converge
Photo: Unsplash

Today we can see a more personalized approach in the medical sphere with a much greater emphasis on preventative measures. And it is largely powered by blockchain, IoT, DeFi and a healthy dose of AI. 

It’s 2030 and I simply cannot believe how things have changed. There’s politics, but we won’t get into that.  Let’s talk about healthcare.  It started with companies like Consensus Health, FarmaTrust, and Health Blocks to name just a few that I remember from back in the day.

Things really started to change direction about eight years ago when the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and finance all came together to function as one smooth humming machine. What’s changed between say, the year 2022 , and now?

Digital Identity and Healthcare

The first thing that had an impact on the health field was Digital Identity. Individual blockchain companies were working on Digital Identities or Self-Sovereign Identities. But things really began to coalesce when the independent standards body, IEEE took on the problem. They formed a working group with lead members, Lockheed, IoTeX, Ericsson, Lenovo, Huawei, and Bosch.

MachineFi became the basis of the autonomous machine economy,  and Digital Identities for both people and machines was the foundation for this new economy.  This happened around the time when everyone was going nuts over the idea of Web3. That sounds so quaint now, doesn’t it?

“The potential economic value that the IoT could unlock is large and growing,” says the McKinsey report. ” By 2030, we estimate that it could enable $5.5 trillion to $12.6 trillion in value globally, including the value captured by consumers and customers of IoT products and services.” IoT value set to accelerate through 2030: Where and how to capture it McKinsey & Company Report.

But it was a big deal that you could create an online identity that you own and control – a Digital Identity. No one could cancel your account, revoke your access to my data or use my data without your express permission. Being locked out of accounts happened a lot then, if you remember.

Even machines began to have secure Digital Identities. You would not believe how much it cost when a specialized medical device, like an MRI, got hacked and taken offline – tens of thousands of dollars. It was a cost in both stolen information and revenue-generating machines being taken offline. And you know who paid for it? You and me, in higher insurance rates and identity theft.

But as things changed, all the data that you and I generated began to be run through these encryption algorithms called advanced data blinding algorithms. These take data from a machine or a person and transform it into an encoded form without knowing either the real input or the real output. Pretty cool, right? And that was part of what helped bring healthcare costs down.

“MachineFi, for example, is designed to connect the physical and the virtual worlds. It is an innovative combination of machine and DeFi to monetize machine-driven data, events, and tasks.

By realizing this vision, IoTeX is going to transition traditional IoT and machine verticals into MachineFi dapps, unlocking trillion-dollar opportunities in the Metaverse and web3 world and eventually enable millions of users to participate in the machine economy with billions of their smart devices” ( Intentional Business News).

Science Fiction Predicts IoT Advances in Healthcare

Thinking about science fiction movies or books reminds me of a film from the 1960s my grandparents told me about, Fantastic Voyage. The premise: a team of scientists needs to save a man with a blood clot on his brain. The solution? Why of course they shrink themselves and a nuclear submarine down to a size where they can be injected, ship and all, into the man’s bloodstream where their adventure to save him begins. The animated graphics were a big deal back then.

Here’s the trailer. Don’t laugh at the overly dramatic voiceover narration. (ok, laugh)

Annual Checkup and Treatments

People rarely go into a doctor’s office these days. With simple algorithms that send alerts to both doctors and patients, in-person physicals are less necessary. Health data is mostly collected in real-time and lets a healthcare provider check-in to ask what’s going on in your life. You’ll typically talk about remote diagnosis, monitoring of the heart, blood oxygen levels with pulse-oximeters, blood glucose monitoring for diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions, and more.

Results of diagnostic tests are now recorded on a blockchain. Now this lets me grant instant access to specialists for follow-up treatment. If I want a second opinion there’s no delay in giving access to the other doctor.

Treatment and advanced diagnostics now include ingestables and injectables- devices you can swallow or have injected into you. They can detect health problems way earlier than ever before and they can also be used to release very targeted doses of medicine. That makes it faster, more effective, and safer.

HealthBlocks was one company that identified the nascent trends and jumped in early.

We can observe the growth of companies that now collect their own health data from medical devices, which include the increasingly popular wearable technologies. Think heart rate sensors, pulse oximeters, exercise trackers… You can bundle all this data into a singular digital health application (2022 HealthBlocks website).

Blockchain and IoT Revolutionized Supply Chain

What changed? Starting with the manufacturing plant, blockchain has provided supply chain transparency. Now we can see that the drugs we take comply with all regulations for safety and effectiveness.

Nathan Miller, co-founder of Consensus Networks and former US Navy submariner saw the potential in blockchain to improve communications and medical supply chains:

“Being able to track it [a medication] through when it’s put into a patient and then being able to track beyond just that initial use to look at long-term health effects – there’s a lot there that this integrated environment can do.”

There is a video FarmaTrust did that pointed to the future of pharmaceuticals.

We can ask:

  • Is the drug I’ll be using legitimate?
  • Was it delivered in time to still be effective or is it past its expiration date?
  • Was it transported under conditions that assure me it’s safe and effective?
  • If there are problems with transport, can those problems be identified and resolved to constantly improve the process?

The Fun Part of Healthcare

It used to be if you said the words healthcare and fun in the same sentence it would be considered an oxymoron. Not true today. Me and my running buddies now compete on all kinds of metrics, not just who’s faster. (It’s me, by the way!)

Here’s a really goofy one. We call it the Couch Potato race. Here’s how it works. We all run in the evening. Over the course of the run everyone has to hit and maintain an average heart rate. We then each go to our respective apartments and chill. (that’s the coach part) Whoever reaches the lowest resting heart rate by 7pm wins. We only wager a buck or two of crypto to make it more interesting. Mostly we brag that we are achieving our fitness goals.

Another thing about Couch Potato Race, our insurance providers are so happy to see our fitness levels improve, we all get discounts on our rates. (It’s cheaper for them to insure healthy people.) Also, there are data pools where we can add our health data and they pay real money for access to that data. It may not be much, but over time it adds up.

What’s the Big Picture in Healthcare in 2030?

Today we can see personalized medicine with a much greater emphasis on preventative measures. And it is largely powered by blockchain, IoT, DeFi and a healthy dose of AI.  The folks at  Consensus Health, FarmaTrust, HealthBlocks, and City Block (spun off from Google) got it mostly right and that’s why they have done well.

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Andy Watson
Author Andy Watson

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