As the coronavirus pandemic impacted our lives in countless ways, governments and health-care professionals were finding ways to address the problems. Blockchain technology sprung up as one of the solutions to deal with the worldwide health crisis.
Though blockchain cannot prevent the emergence of the disease, it can help to remain alert about disease outbreaks. The characteristic feature of blockchain technology such as higher degrees of trust and accuracy, tamper-proof public and digital ledger, efficiency, and transparency helps in early detection of the epidemic, tracking of drug trials and supply, impact management of the coronavirus outbreak and its treatment, all the while maintaining the user privacy.
Let’s see how blockchain can help in managing the pandemic.
- For any infectious disease for that matter, the first step is to prevent its spread for which accurate and effective disease surveillance is a must. Blockchain tech comes into the picture here. Deployment of a blockchain network in people’s electronic devices enables the caretakers to understand the possible spread of the disease for which counteraction could be planned.
- Tracking of the infected patients’ movement, acquiring real-time data of affected zones, movement of persons in virus-free zones, information on safe zones, and outbreak status using the blocks give an alert for movement restriction or relaxation and thereby preventing the spread of the disease to a greater extent.
- Maintenance of continuous supply of medicines and foods is the greatest challenge faced by the healthcare sector. With blockchain tech, cloud, and AI, healthcare personnel was able to understand the supply and demand information of essential medicines, equipment, accessories, ventilators, and, etc. The network of manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, government services facilitated with a shared repository of inventory details helped to manage manufacturing and logistics efficiently.
For instance, IBM’s Rapid supplier connects’ strengthened the medical supply chain.
- Blockchain helps to monitor the quarantined patients at home and hospitals while speeding up the drug supply faster. Thus, it plays a significant role in the recovery of the infected persons. The data is decentralized across healthcare professionals, end-users, and government networks.
- Preserving the privacy of the patients is of utmost importance. Storage of data and transfer of treatment-related information was critical and challenging as data may get exposed for breaches. Blockchain tech provides solutions for this concern through a decentralized and transparent log of data. It facilitates the healthcare professionals and patients to share the relevant information in a safe and secure manner.
- A systematic healthcare management system helps us to deal with the crisis easily. Blockchain technology helped to manage medical records, insurance claims, clinical research data, healthcare ledger, and advanced biomedical research during this period of crisis.
- The public is contributing money as goodwill to manage the disease. Blockchain technology helps to verify the contribution from donors and enables them to track their contribution in real-time.
- Blockchain technology-based UAVs and robots enable automated surveillance and intervention at high-rate transmission zones through measures like social distancing, use of face masks, protection shields, and continuous assessment of symptoms.
In brief, blockchain has supported contact tracing, patient information sharing, logistics management, taking adequate quarantine measures, manufacture of necessary medical equipment and accessories, delivery of food or medicines contactless, provide online education for the society, immigration management, and e-government.
Though blockchain technology had its limitations such as enormous energy consumption, scalability issues, and network latency-to mention a few, the technology is more promising in handling pandemics. Presently, the frameworks like Hyperledger Fabric and Etheruem are used. With improved systems and a combination of big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence, blockchain will create a healthy nation in the near future.