Gypsy Rose- Kyiv, Ukraine 23rd April 2018
If they have heard of it at all, most people associate cryptocurrencies like bitcoin with payments and exchanging money online, including perhaps with illegal activities on the dark web. They can’t imagine what a cryptocurrency might have to do with healthcare – an arena where we expect trust and high ethical standards since, after all, our well-being or our lives may be at risk.
So, at first glance, it seems pretty counter-intuitive to associate a cryptocurrency with healthcare. However, advances in the technologies which allow bitcoin to function – known as blockchain or distributed ledger technologies – are opening up the way for issuing new types of digital tokens which can be used in all kinds of innovative ways, including even in healthcare.
Organisations like Solve.Care Foundation are harnessing these new technologies to transform the way we organise and indeed the whole way we look at healthcare systems. Companies are now able to issue their own digital tokens which can be used for specific purposes within a distributed, decentralised network – such as operating within all the different parts that make up as a healthcare system.
One part of Solve.Care Foundation’s mission is to introduce Care.Coins – these coins are a kind of ‘intelligent’ payment token which will allow for much greater accountability and transparency for healthcare and benefit transactions within the system. Using these coins will make the vast numbers of administrative and financial transactions that go on inside a health system very simple and quick. You will be able to see who has paid what or done what, at what time, and every party in the system has access to that record at the same time.
This has vast potential since healthcare administration is currently estimated at somewhere between 7-30% of total healthcare spending. If Solve.Care is able to do this, using Care.Coins, at 3%, the cost savings are enormous. And the benefits to players in the system – both doctors and patients – are huge too. No more missing test results, no more searching for unallocated payments, no more having to trace back what happened to a particular patient in order to satisfy insurance company request – the medical history, audit trail and payment data will already automatically be there.
Tokens like this can also be used to raise funding to support the creation of these new types of businesses, allowing companies to grow and raise capital in a new way and allowing investors to have a kind of direct digital stake in funding of innovative new business models. This new type of crowdfunding is now outstripping traditional venture capital investment in blockchain-based startups and setting off a wave of new innovations.
So what does cryptocurrency have to do with transforming healthcare? As it turns out, quite a lot.