The problems with the healthcare sector are, by now, well-known. Issues such as spiralling costs, antiquated data management processes, opaque funding models, and a general lack of transparency all conspire to negatively impact the patient experience, leaving patients feeling assailed by a multitude of hostile forces rather than nurtured by a system designed to make them well.
Such is the seriousness of the situation that, in the United States at least, healthcare policies play a critical role in every presidential election as candidates vie to steer the healthcare sector in the direction that they deem most beneficial. Indeed, some of President-elect Joe Biden’s key campaign promises were centered around healthcare and his coming term is likely to see him move to reduce complexity within the healthcare system and make care more affordable to ordinary Americans.
Game changers when it comes to helping patients
Recent developments in technology have already ushered in significant improvements in the quality and availability of care, particularly for those in rural and remote areas. For instance, just look at how faster internet speeds coupled with enhanced video-conferencing services have given rise to a wave of new telehealth platforms. Telehealth has been a game changer when it comes to helping patients who otherwise might struggle to reach their healthcare practitioner.
Other emerging technologies have their part to play too. For instance, for some time now, those within the blockchain industry have been pointing to distributed ledger technology (DLT) as the ideal solution on which to build the next generation of healthcare applications to overcome the endemic issues that I have already mentioned.
Indeed, blockchain and healthcare are a natural fit, with the design principles of blockchain — security, transparency, and privacy — seeming to solve many of the problems faced by the sector.
What’s more, blockchain-based healthcare platforms could introduce an element of interoperability into a heretofore fragmented network, enabling healthcare providers and their patients alike to quickly and easily access and share health records and associated data.
Ushering in a new era of financial empowerment
However, while applications of blockchain technology might be able to solve problems with healthcare offerings in areas where healthcare is freely available, what about those communities that do not have access to affordable healthcare services to begin with?
As it happens, blockchain, or more specifically one of its many use cases, decentralized finance (DeFi), can help here too. DeFi holds the potential to radically transform the very way in which healthcare services are financed.
Put simply, DeFi is a movement to promote the use of decentralized networks and open-source software to create multiple types of financial services and products. The last few months have seen an explosion in popularity within the space and a range of new projects have emerged as people flock to use this innovative new technology to usher in a new era of financial empowerment and solve numerous issues.
One area in which DeFi stands to have a real benefit is in enabling the delivery of better and more affordable healthcare to people and communities who otherwise may not be able to afford them.
As with many of the other systemic issues within healthcare, the solution to ensuring that communities have adequate access to the healthcare services that they need most can be found by taking the decision-making power for how and where those services are distributed out of the hands of the few and putting it into the hands of the many.
Or, to put it more succinctly, by decentralizing it. In doing so, this not only places the power back into the hands of the consumer but it also allows them to direct funds and earn returns on the healthcare projects that they choose to support.
Quite clearly, it is patients and their families themselves who best know which services are required in their communities, not medical corporations or centralized governing bodies.
Lending and borrowing transparency
The healthcare system in the US and around the world is complex, expensive, and fragmented in a myriad of financing mechanisms. The current traditional financing environment can best be characterized as centralized, as directly evidenced by the volume of financing across major industry groups controlled by large money-center banking institutions.
Much of their activity and pricing remain opaque and largely profitable, even in a long-term low interest rate environment. DeFi changes this equation by providing transparency in lending and borrowing as well as introducing community-based involvement in lending to set standards and rates through the use of governance mechanisms such as token voting.
There are a range of ways in which DeFi can enhance access to and affordability of care, the creation of need-specific asset pools, and completely rearchitecting the medical equipment leasing-model.
Covid-19 has upended every facet of life as we know it and nowhere has this been more evident than in the healthcare industry. The pandemic has accelerated demand for a DeFi-healthcare framework that can be made available globally, bringing new benefits to patients, practitioners, and the healthcare industry as a whole.
A decentralized healthcare financial solution will change the game for healthcare financing across the globe, with patients, doctors, institutions, and insurers benefitting from DeFi’s million dollar potential. Let’s make it happen.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of BeInCrypto.
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