South Korea Brings Blockchain to Healthcare, but That’s Just the Start

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The government of South Korea is trying its best to adopt blockchain technology in various industries. The country’s central bank is reviewing the use of a central bank digital currency, and various government ministries want to adopt decentralized identification features within their current systems. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and research centers are also looking at blockchain solutions.

Everyone knows that blockchain can help the medical industry, but at the same time, applying a new blockchain service structure to traditional industries is not so quick and simple. Lots of testing needs to be done before it can be to be applied in people’s daily lives.

The South Korean government is encouraging blockchain technology and conducting several proof-of-concept projects to find a proper way to connect blockchain to the current system. The nation’s Ministry of Science and ICT and its National IT Industry Promotion Agency started blockchain proof-of-concept projects in 2019.

As governments globally struggle with the healthcare implications of the coronavirus pandemic, their focuses have invariably shifted away from many chronic diseases and conditions to the more pressing concern of bringing the pandemic under control.

But behind all the noise, government health organizations are making impressive steps forward in the ways in which they use technology to analyze and respond to the challenges that chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease place on populations and healthcare systems.

Professionals working within health departments have long had to contend with a lack of funding that often forces them to rely upon legacy computer software and hardware that is unsuited for a fast-changing healthcare system.

This is where blockchain, and the underlying cryptocurrencies that support it, can play a role, bringing decentralized solutions to departments that rely on clear, accurate daily information to treat their patients.

In South Korea, a country that is very open to blockchain technology and its potential, this new technology is now being used to develop a blockchain-based data registry platform that has been set up to help more than 11 million people living in the country who suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes debilitates its sufferers, leading to a reduced quality of life and a dependence on ongoing treatment and drugs to keep the disease at bay. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that as of 2019, 463 million people suffer from diabetes globally, while South Korea has over 5 million people who struggle with the disease.

Many hospitals and laboratories rely on centralized solutions and databases to coordinate data collaboration, a method that makes it almost impossible to track the use and manipulation of the typically huge volumes of data collected and used by healthcare providers.

The use of blockchain in ordering and storing such a large amount of data will ultimately lead to efficiency improvements for healthcare staff, which means they will be able to spend more time with the people who matter: the patients.

South Korea passed new data-related regulations that will be effective in December. Once the regulations are applied, more corporations are expected to look to the benefits of blockchain for data management and storage.

Current data management systems do not allow corporations to manage data properly, as they cannot track data access or use, so some feel data management and storage could be streamlined and improved using blockchain.

With government support, blockchain adoption isn’t far away, but it depends on whether people are ready to accept this new structure in certain industries. Nobody wants to be the first one to do it and take the risk, but the work of pioneering businesses means we are only one step away from much wider adoption of blockchain technology.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Henry Hong is the CEO of Sendsquare, which created the Fleta blockchain. Fleta is a blockchain platform designed to resolve the issues of current blockchain platforms and create a sustainable blockchain ecosystem.