The flaws in our institutions were made clear to everyone by COVID-19. Despite having several early warning systems in place, the world struggled to survive the pandemic. Supply problems were widespread.
The hospitals were overrun with patients who they were unable to identify. The widespread distrust that the public has for institutions has made it extremely difficult to distribute and administer vaccines. Everyone had a challenging learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, as the proverb goes, every obstacle hides a blessing, and humanity is quite good at spotting those masks. Blockchain has been by our side for a while, and it is now imperative that we incorporate its fundamental applications into our daily lives.
This blog examines the potential benefits that blockchain technology has for halting the inevitable next pandemic.
An avertable catastrophe
Disease transmission and prevention are currently the two biggest problems that public health organizations must deal with. There are numerous systems available to track, detect, and monitor the spread of diseases.
Already, there are many organizations that receive millions of dollars in funding in this manner. The international response to COVID-19 was, however, in many ways inadequate, disjointed, and chaotic.
In the early stages of the pandemic, many people disobeyed orders to stay at home. Medical professionals made implementing contact tracing a top priority. As a result of the overwhelming number of patients, hospitals had to rely on warehouses to supply them with basic medical supplies like surgical masks and gowns.
Yet demand far surpassed supply because of improper warehouse management. Panic dominated the markets. Soap and other hygiene products flew off the shelves, and government agencies had to step in to prevent the hoarding of basic necessities and medical supplies.
Medical professionals were forced to treat patients without even the most basic safety equipment. They hurried to treat patients in high-risk, virally-loaded areas. Millions of healthcare workers went above and beyond the call of duty until they broke down and burned out completely.
The public developed a mistrust of the organizations they ought to always be able to turn to in difficult times. It’s simple to comprehend why.
Crisis situations have historically been used to curtail people’s freedom and liberty while posing as a safety measure. Privacy is a delicate issue that needs to be safeguarded. But convenience is a trade-off for security. There was a pervasive worry that once freedom was lost, it would never be regained.
The problem with manufacturing
Masks and other medical equipment are produced in a number of nations. A final product is produced by combining all of the individual components that each nation has produced so far. This is carried out because producing the individual components in a number of stages is the most cost-effective strategy. The supply chain network has become extremely efficient over the years.
This indicates that expenses have been kept to a minimum while profits have increased. However, there is a fatal drawback to this: the majority of nations rely on outside manufacturers for their life-saving protective equipment.
The current supply chain is intricate and has lots of moving parts. Due to its complexity, it is therefore extremely prone to failure. ideal for conducting business, but less than ideal for fighting disease when time is of the essence.
With several production facilities shut down as a result of social norms that discourage closeness, the supply chain suffered yet another fatal blow. There was too much traffic on hospital networks. There simply weren’t enough hospital beds to accommodate sick people, so the business could not continue.
There were numerous problems with the storage and distribution of medical supplies. Given that they have expiration dates, administering and distributing vaccines has proven difficult. However, it takes time to plan the vaccination of millions of people. There is a period of time when the vaccines we keep in storage start to lose their potency and eventually become ineffective.
This is what happened in Nigeria, where the government was forced to dispose of a staggering amount of vaccines that had become ineffective before they could reach the population in time to administer them.
Blockchain as the solution
Blockchain is a globally distributed database that can’t be hacked, cheated, or altered once we enter the data. It’s a big spreadsheet that millions of computers keep a copy of at the same time.
The biggest power of blockchain is having a reliable record-keeping system.
Hospitals are able to maintain patient records using this system of record-keeping. Patients can keep track of the vaccine they have received, their previous doses, and the health benefits they have experienced as a result of the vaccine. Governmental organizations are able to monitor the spread of disease across numerous states.
Data collected using the blockchain cannot be changed once it has been recorded. This guarantees that there is only one truth used for record-keeping. There are no conflicting databases or mismatched books.
Our regional, international, and local physicians can use the blockchain to monitor the movement of COVID-19 carriers. The inventory kept in warehouses can also be tracked by distribution networks without a second check.
The risk status of patients can be found by insurance companies by looking up patient profiles.
Veterinarians can monitor the progression of illnesses among animals and take appropriate action before they start to infect people.
The blockchain, which is completely transparent and resistant to hacking and unauthorized access, is imprinted with the patient’s entire medical history. We can act swiftly to safeguard the vulnerable population in our nation thanks to the vast amount of patient data on the blockchain.
One of the best ways to stop the spread of diseases is through contact tracing, particularly before vaccines are created.
This enables us to warn those who have come into contact with the disease. It enables us to anticipate future infection rates and set aside the required number of medical supplies and hospital beds. Existing contact tracing protocols can be strengthened by blockchain technology to make them more efficient and quick.
At-risk patients must be notified of nearby positive cases before a contact-tracing system can do so. Although there are contact tracing systems in place, they all run on centralized servers, making them susceptible to hacking and failure. They are a single point of failure. Blockchain-based contact tracing systems seek to completely decentralize the entire procedure.
It is entirely feasible to use blockchain technology in conjunction with smartphone technology to track patients through their phones. Oracle, Microsoft, and the World Health Organization are currently carrying out this action. Together, they have established MiPasa, an open data hub. Using GPS, Bluetooth, and smartphone technology, this tool seeks to identify COVID-19 carriers and monitor infection hotspots.
We can share medical data with organizations around the globe by integrating patients with blockchain. Our regional, international, and local organizations can take action to monitor the movement of disease across state boundaries.
The strength of blockchain is in information sharing without disclosing private information. It secures and maintains the security of transactions using asymmetric cryptography. Since each system has a public and private key, the entire system is secured against hackers.
Without running the risk of unintentionally disclosing our personal information, we can share our public key with others.
Senders and recipients are identified by their addresses rather than by their names. Private keys are kept secure through the use of digital signatures. In contrast, research indicates that 230,954,151 medical records are believed to have been lost, leaked, or stolen in the USA in the past ten years alone in the current medical system.
Blockchain is prepared to safeguard your personal information so that it cannot be sold to anyone, as the erosion of privacy is a hot topic for citizens everywhere.
In fact, a large number of startups are presently working to develop medical apps with privacy enabled by blockchain. Together with government organizations, Rapid Medical Parts, MiPasa, Tymlex, and Civitas are working to secure patient data while also making it easier for experts to access it.
The Last Word
Blockchain technology finally got the impetus it needed with COVID-19. With blockchain technology integrated into smartphones, disease surveillance and contact tracing are simplified.
The management of inventories and warehouses has changed as a result of blockchain inventory management’s distributed, decentralized power.
As we all strive for better security and privacy, in the future, privacy will be achieved through asymmetric cryptography and digital signatures.