Community News

This Week in Blockchain 02.08.18

The Future of Healthcare

Anyone that has ever had to transfer medical records from one doctor to another knows the frustration that follows. And forget about trying to figure out expense sheets. Stress is damaging to the immune system. We don’t need more of it when we’re trying to heal.

Forbes contributor Chrissa McFarlane sees a light at the end of this tunnel, and it’s provided by blockchain. First off, she writes that blockchain offers much-needed layers of security, especially when dealing with personal information such as health history, prescriptions, and so on.

Given that blockchain is a distributed ledger technology and does not require third-party interventions, it allows institutions to decentralize their databases. Hence, by using blockchain, health care systems can significantly reduce their risk of being subject to cyber threats. It would take too much time and energy for hackers to access all of the nodes within the network and to infect the system.

By protecting both doctors and patients, trust can be ensured in a system that is currently tenuous and uncertain. McFarlane also believes blockchain addresses efficiency and coordination, which are extremely important in life or death situations.

By creating a unified ecosystem of data, distributed ledger software encourages cooperation between networks, improving payment processing, patient tracking, and enterprise workflow.

While she acknowledges the fact that current storage and transaction costs are still prohibitive, that will change as better platforms emerge. Private, permissible settings for users to truly control their data will be a key implementation in blockchain transforming healthcare—one that is hopefully closer than we think.

CBD and Crypto

Earlier this week, I attended a panel discussion at the DEW Expo in Marina del Rey, on cannabis on digital platforms. One ongoing complaint in the cannabis industry is the overpolicing of marketing efforts on social media. Some companies are continually booted from Instagram while others remain; organizations call out Facebook for burying marijuana-themed ads (or outright rejecting them).

Which makes cryptocurrency a natural fit for an industry with serious banking issues. Besides THC-heavy flower and edibles, CBD, which is often sold in non-psychoactive balms, drinks, and tinctures, is also being shuttled through blockchain. Fintech writer Gina Clarke believes CBD and crypto make for natural marriage.

It’s no surprise that the same kind of people who are attracted to the crypto market are also drawn to the CBD market, fighting an uphill battle against confusion and hysteria is a transferable skill set after all. 

Considering the CBD industry is expected to be worth $22B by 2020, that’s a lot of transactions for blockchain to manage. While there are a number of blockchain start-ups hovering around the cannabis industry, someone is going to dial in a system that will be broadly employed. And whoever that is is going to cash in on one of the most exciting health and recreational industries of our day.

There’s the Beef

Another day, another use case. This one comes by way of the University of Wyoming, where a student tracked a shipment of local beef to Taiwan on a blockchain code he developed. The name of the company is perfectly named: Beefchain.

Raised on a farm in Powell, Wyoming, the shipment was tagged with RFID labels to travel to Taipei. The blockchain code allowed the protein to be tracked through the entire supply chain.

Given the issues we’ve experienced with food tracking in recent years, such as disease outbreaks in lettuce, eggs, and processed foods, a blockchain-based system will be necessary for identifying the source of the problem. That way consumers will be informed of what brands not to purchase, stores will know exactly what to pull from shelves, and suppliers will root out the issue without affecting supplies that are not tainted.

Positive Vibrations

While impossible to avoid negativity and unwarranted skepticism in every industry, blockchain has received a large share of naysaying. Of course, the technology is still developing; healthy skepticism and existential questioning is needed.

The future looks bright, though, according to a recent TD Bank survey. A stunning 90 percent of treasury and finance professionals believe that blockchain will positively affect the payments industry. The survey included 406 attendees at the 2018 AFP Conference in Chicago.

Applications professionals are looking forward to include AI, automation, audit trails, cross-border payments, payment processes, and reducing fraud.

While good news for blockchain, there is a needed educational curve—another survey revealed that 63 percent of institutional investors do not understand blockchain. The advocates need to be teachers as well.

Closing Thought

“Instead of focusing on beating the competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.” — W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy