Believe it or not, the blockchain boom is still in its infancy. While it’s true that ICOs alone surpassed $3.7 billion in funding last year (Coinschedule), even if investment slows this technology has the potential to completely revolutionize multiple industries. As FinTech (the birthplace of blockchain) continues to shift away from legacy software, numerous other practices are looking to catch up.
We’ve already started to see how early entrepreneurs are looking to incorporate blockchain technology to change their respective industries, but this is going to be the field to watch in the next few years, because innovators are just getting started with blockchain technology.
In terms of cost, healthcare is one of the most heavily debated industries in the United States; fortunately, blockchain has the potential to make a tremendous impact on the healthcare industry, dramatically cutting costs even as it increases security and efficiency. Because blockchains are both secure and transparent, the technology is predicted to transform the way in which patient data is transferred between providers, cutting costs and better protecting sensitive health information. As much as 86 percent of mistakes in healthcare are administrative, according to GetReferral MD, but blockchain holds the potential to prevent those kinds of errors from happening at all.
Companies like Nano Vision want to make our healthcare and medical research more efficient and effective. “Globally, we spend $5-10 trillion on healthcare each year, which includes administrative costs that have very little real impact,” the Nano Vision team explains. But the power of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence can do far more than increase efficiency; the platform’s Nano Sense™ chip is being designed to actually analyze molecular data and identify health threats in real-time, and in the real world where it impacts all of us.
The implications of this technology are mind-blowing; the system is decentralized and uses a cryptocurrency to share or contribute data, meaning that major institutions, corporations, foundations, and insurers can’t control the information collected and stored. It will also be possible for anyone to simply purchase some of Nano Vision’s cryptocurrency to direct research funding to a particular disease area. Because it will be able to access critical data in real time (at the molecular level, mind you), it will identify and assess health problems faster and more accurately than ever before.
“Nano Vision is pioneering a life-saving economic system that incentivizes the collection and use of molecular data at a global scale using blockchain and a new crypto asset to share data and resources to fundamentally change the way we address world health,” said the Nano Vision team. “This is the trillion dollar challenge of our day.”
Despite promising, potentially groundbreaking applications like these, the healthcare industry presents some unique challenges for blockchain technology. For blockchain to be truly successful in healthcare, it’s going to have create an infrastructure large enough to support the tech’s use in every hospital and care facility across the country. To do that, you’ll have to install systems and teach new operations all hospitals and staff, making the potential roadblocks against widespread blockchain implementation steep. Despite these limitations, there is ever more consumer demand for solutions in healthcare, and it’s really only a matter of time before blockchain becomes the mammoth healthcare disruptor many are predicting it will be.
Food Sourcing and Sustainability
While you may personally have never given it a passing thought, you’d probably be astonished by the distance foods travel to get to our plate. For example, according to Farm and Dairy, the average pound of tomatoes is transported 1,569 miles before it reaches the grocery store, and if you really start to think about and break down what every step along that journey might have looked like for that crate of tomatoes, you might start reconsidering just how little thought you give to where your food is sourced. Thankfully, this is another industry blockchain could revolutionize.
Blockchain would make it possible to track every single food product you can think of just as easily as it is to track a package, creating a record of each touchpoint the food made between the farm and you. Not only will this make it easier for consumers to validate that their organic produce is, in fact, organic, but it could also impact the prices of items and offer increased transparency in terms of quality and environmental impact from food processing. Blockchain also holds a lot of potential for tracking emergencies like outbreaks of foodborne illnesses; while tracing an outbreak can generally take several days or even weeks using traditional methods, blockchain could reduce the time to just a few minutes or less.
Even though insurance is a $1.1 trillion industry according to the Insurance Information Institute, blockchain technology still has the power to completely flip the industry on its head, completely changing the way we look at insurance altogether. That’s because insurance providers can’t reduce rates without increasing their risks, but blockchain has the potential to change that.
The transactional nature of the blockchain system could give consumers an advantage when it comes to their insurance premiums. For example, consumers could work to reduce the cost of their healthcare premium by exchanging FitBit exercise data for less risk to the insurer, driving down costs. Blockchain’s secure system makes it impossible for consumers or insurers to tamper with or modify the data, so the information would be both reliable and secure. What’s more, blockchain’s decentralized system could empower consumers to drive down premiums as well.
Although a relative newcomer to the blockchain scene, the digital collectibles world is absolutely being rocked by blockchain. From trading memes to cultivating and raising digital cats that go for thousands of real-world dollars, the digital collectibles world has been a relatively unexpected market that has emerged from blockchain technology. In fact, Salon reports that platforms like CryptoKittites (think Tamagotchis on blockchain) have sold for as much as $100,000, creating an early interest in this space’s potential. While it’s still early, the relationship between between scarcity and value has been tested in the crypto collectibles realm, and so far, early fans love it.
What are some blockchain innovations you’re excited to see develop? Comment with what you’re looking forward to in 2018!