Why Does WEB3 Improve the Healthcare System?
As the web evolves from web 2.0’s centralised structure to web3’s decentralised one, new use cases are beginning to surface. One sector where web3 is finding several uses is healthcare. Whenever we look, we see examples of how web 2.0 may be useful.
Telemedicine, electronic health records, healthcare apps & other cutting-edge innovations were brought to the healthcare system with the advent of the second generation of the internet. Although gaining access to these technology has benefited humanity, it has also put a lot at risk.
Due to the centralised servers’ lack of transparency, our data is often at danger. Anybody with access may quickly change or remove information. This is a big issue in the healthcare industry & among those who use medical facilities. Yet, web3 is not like this at all.
Web3 is helping healthcare facilities better handle patient information & keep accurate medical records. New healthcare-related web3 services & solutions are constantly being developed. This demonstrates the increasing importance of web3 in the medical field.
Benefits of Web3 for healthcare include the ability to detect & track counterfeit medications, protect sensitive patient data, conduct virtual procedures & much more. The healthcare industry is ripe with potential for web3, so let’s examine some of the ways it may be put to use.
Web3 is the latest version of the World Wide Web & it places data ownership & control in the hands of its users. Web3 creates a distributed environment, in contrast to the current web 2.0’s controlled ecosystem, in which no central authority interferes with user data management.
Web3 solves many of the problems that plague the current web (also known as the read-write web), such as centralization, censorship, data leakage & more.
The blockchain-supported read-write web3 creates a decentralised, permissionless & peer-to-peer network. The following are some of the advantages it gives to its consumers.
- Censorship resistance
- Decentralized Autonomous Organizations(DAOs)
- Self-sovereign identity
- Native payments
The healthcare industry may reap the aforementioned advantages & more through Web3. Let’s examine the relationship between web3 & medical treatment.
Healthcare and the Web 2.0
Healthcare 2.0 refers to the wave of new healthcare technology that arose in tandem with Web 2.0 in the mid-2000s. Health 2.0 modified the traditional approach to healthcare & made it more efficient. It integrated a number of technological frameworks, including telemedicine, linked health, mHealth & others, to provide patients with access to & agency over their data.
Patients may now make use of online health record keeping & monitoring tools thanks to web 2.0 technologies. MyFitnessPal, Waterlogged, Down Dog, Talkspace & many more may help you monitor your physical & mental health by recording the foods & beverages you consume, the amount of water you drink, the length of time you spend exercising, & other relevant data.
A definition of Health 2.0 is as follows: “participatory health care characterised by the capacity to swiftly communicate, categorise & summarise individual health information with the aim of enhancing health care systems, experiences & results through integration of patients & stakeholders.
The healthcare web 2.0 technologies promote communication, openness, engagement & cooperation between individuals & organisations. It significantly advanced the original e-health paradigm from the 1900s by means of telemedicine, teleconsultation, home care & chronic illness management systems, as well as health-related websites or portals, Electronic Health Records (EHR), virtual communities & online support groups.
Also, it improved healthcare access for those living in remote areas. It completely altered healthcare, but not without problems. There are several potential risks to security & data privacy. Websites, web servers & databases of healthcare institutions with inadequate security measures in place are vulnerable to cyber assaults.
Hackers & cybercriminals are always on the lookout for vulnerable databases that they may exploit for financial gain. Your healthcare organisation is at danger if it does not have sufficient technological security measures in place, including data encryption, when dealing with electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI).
Inadequate cyber awareness, poorly documented cybersecurity policies & procedures & antiquated medical devices & equipment are all potential causes of compromised data.
Notwithstanding the benefits of web 2.0 to the healthcare system, new security risks & other problems have emerged. So, the development of web3 has come as a welcome respite in the field of healthcare. After learning what web3 is & how it works, let’s examine how it may improve the health business.
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Web3 in healthcare
The revolutionary effects of Web3 in medicine cannot be overstated. The three parts of web3 that will change healthcare forever are:
- Blockchain – Blockchain technology, a decentralised encrypted database, is the foundation of Web3. This technology ensures the safekeeping & transmission of data while limiting access to just the data’s rightful owner.
- Metaverse – The technologies of VR, AR, blockchain & more combine to create the immersive environment known as the Metaverse.
- Nfts – Non-Fungible Tokens are unalterable tokens that may be used to prove ownership over digital or physical assets & are backed by the blockchain.
Web3’s foundational technology, blockchain, provides a secure & immutable digital ledger that may be used by the healthcare industry to store sensitive patient data. Because of the decentralized nature of the network, these records are immune to manipulation. But, a metaverse has the potential to make telemedicine & teleconsultation, two forms of digital healthcare, more interesting & realistic.
Similar to NFTs, web3 tokens are distributed on a blockchain & confer ownership rights on its holders. When data ownership is distributed to people, the healthcare ecosystem may become more patient-focused. In the medical world, this is a monumental change.
Health-related Web 3.0 applications
Control Over and Ownership of Patient Data :
Large healthcare organisations rely heavily on Web3 for healthcare to handle their data correctly. Each individual who seeks medical attention presents their own set of symptoms, vulnerabilities, illnesses & treatment options. Patients may number in the hundreds to thousands daily, making it difficult for hospital administration to keep track of everyone’s medical history.
Because of this, information management may become chaotic & overwhelming. Patients are denied their right to information since their health records are kept on centralised systems to which they do not have access.
Blockchain, a core component of the third-generation internet, may be useful for managing medical records. It provides a standard format for entering information into the distributed, immutable database. Due to its open nature, anybody with access to the data may see any updates made to it.
In addition, patients have full authority to grant access to their records. As a result, only authorised medical personnel have access to it. Let’s check out the process. Providers use smart contracts on the blockchain to securely keep a patient’s medical history.
The data can only be accessed by using the public key or ID that was just created. A public key or ID is required for data access by any physician. No information will be shared with doctors or other medical staff unless the patient willingly shares their public key with them. Patients get privacy & control over their personal data because of this.
Data security :
Current healthcare data management systems have several security flaws & are easy to breach. It puts too much faith in centralised systems & patients expect services to respect their privacy & not abuse their information. Sadly, several historical examples demonstrate that reliance on these centralised systems is misplaced.
In addition, the steadily rising frequency of data breaches is a serious cause for alarm for patients everywhere. In January 2022, 50 healthcare data sets of 500 or more were submitted to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for Civil Rights, as detailed in the HIPAA journal (OCR). In January, a data breach affecting over 1.35 million Broward Health patients was discovered.
Being a decentralised, distributed & unchangeable ledger, blockchain technology cannot be altered. As the data is spread across several nodes, it would be very difficult for an attacker to compromise the system & make changes or remove any information. In addition, the data may only be accessed with the consent of the patients. Due of its open nature, the data can’t be altered in any way. This ensures the security of sensitive data while it is being stored by healthcare providers, eliminating the risk of data breaches.
This decentralised healthcare system structure, in contrast to the centralised system, would thus aid in reducing several data security vulnerabilities prevalent in the current system. Your private information is protected against unauthorised use, access, or sale, giving you peace of mind.
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Drug counterfeit control :
Due to a lack of visibility in the pharmaceutical supply chain, counterfeit drugs are becoming more problematic in the healthcare sector. Substandard doses of active substances or active compounds not listed on the label are common results of tampering & counterfeiting by illegal medicine makers.
This has the potential to exacerbate the condition of the patient who consumes it. As legitimate pharmaceutical companies work on solutions to the problem of fake medications, criminal organisations are always developing new methods of passing off their goods as the real thing.
The use of Web3 in healthcare has the potential to reduce the prevalence of counterfeit medications. Blockchain technology permits secure & transparent medication tracking. Each transaction in a blockchain network is recorded in a block, which cannot be modified in any way after it has been created.
The transaction logs also include timestamps. So, the problem of medicines counterfeiting may be addressed if the whole supply chain is transferred to the blockchain & each medication is recorded on the chain prior to circulation.
If a drug’s record cannot be located on the blockchain, it is immediately suspected of being counterfeit & removed from circulation. As a result, you know the drug you’re taking is legit. Drug distribution can be monitored, inefficiencies can be uncovered, supply fluctuations can be detected & other similar tasks may be performed with its help.
If all medications were equipped with a unique token identifier (NFT), the pharmaceutical supply chain may be even more secure. Each NFT’s metadata will also keep track of the specifics of each medicine.
Surgical operations :
Augmented & virtual reality (AR/VR), robots & minimally invasive operations are becoming more popular in the medical industry, particularly at prestigious institutions of higher education. It provides a three-dimensional image of the patient’s anatomy, which is useful for surgical planning & execution.
Yet, AR & VR alone cannot lead to making clinical choices, whereas the metaverse may meet the demands of medical practitioners to carry out precise surgical procedures. The metaverse provides a one-of-a-kind environment for medical procedures by combining augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), 3D reconstruction (VR), blockchain & other technologies.
Patients in need of surgery that is not routinely performed in their own country may now work with medical professionals from all around the globe thanks to the metaverse. After reviewing the patient profile, these physicians may decide on a course of action.
Respected medical professionals from different parts of the world sometimes work together in the metaverse to perform successful procedures. This method has shown positive results in regions where certain diseases & operations are not widely accessible.
Metaverse technology enables these kinds of procedures by providing a birds-eye perspective of the patient’s body, which aids in pinpointing the precise location of the problem, such as a lung tumour.
Medical training :
The majority of today’s medical students can only study from 2D films & graphics. There are moral & legal concerns with the widespread practise of allowing medical students to practise on human remains in educational settings. In this respect, the development of metaverse technology has come as a relief. AR, VR & MR technologies are already being used by a number of medical training institutes to educate students about human anatomy.
Students may get a 3D look into the inner workings of the human body’s cells & this can help inspire real-world operations. The use of 3D visualisation helps to provide a risk-free, interactive & socially interactive experience. In the metaverse, students may practise surgical procedures virtually before moving on to the actual thing.
All in all, the metaverse is a useful tool for medical & surgical education.
Patient medical record and monetization :
Under the current setup, a patient’s medical history is kept in silos at several hospitals if they seek care from multiple facilities. If a patient visits, say, 10 different hospitals, it means they’ll end up with 10 separate medical record files. This may lead to a disjointed healthcare system in which there is no centralised location for a patient’s complete medical history. Sensitive patient health records are disorganised & dispersed across several systems.
With the use of web3 technology, patients will be able to centrally store & organise all of their medical records. In addition, patients may profit from their health data by transforming it into NFTs. They may convert the data into NFTs & put them on the distributed ledger. No one except the patient has access to these NFTs, therefore their whereabouts can be tracked. They may then recoup their costs by selling the information to researchers or manufacturers of medical devices.
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The medical field stands to benefit greatly from what Web3 has to offer. It has the potential to decentralise the system & return control of data to the people who should have had it all along: the end users. But, the healthcare goliaths presently hold the data & can do anything they want with it. Without anyone’s knowledge, they might even sell it to other parties for a fortune.
By using web3, healthcare organisations may provide patients more control over their data & better manage a more organised data storage system. Web3’s decentralised, individual & trackable data will improve healthcare’s openness, cost & accessibility.