It is predicted that NFTs will have a major impact on society. In light of this, it should come as no surprise that the billion-dollar healthcare industry has begun exploring NFT tokens to promote medicine.
It is also important to point out that blockchain technology can play an increasingly important role in the healthcare sector. This was recently underlined in a report from the European Union’s Blockchain Observatory, which specifically documents how blockchain applications can address the challenges facing the healthcare industry.
For example, the paper points out that patient participation and transparency in how data is stored, as well as the efficient dissemination of knowledge and data, remains a problem for the healthcare sector. Yet, as the blockchain space continues to evolve, identification in the form of inflexible symbols can serve as a solution to many of the challenges facing the modern healthcare industry.
GeneNFTs aim to revolutionize the precision of medicine
For those unfamiliar with the term, precision medicine refers to “an approach that is emerging in the treatment of disease and prevention that takes into account the individual variability in the genes, environment, and lifestyle of each individual,” according to the Precision Medicine Initiative.
Specifically, Cao believes that symbolic genetic formats can help patients maintain data ownership and transparency in their insights while gaining many benefits that are not normally associated with traditional genetic testing. He explained:
For example, Genetica, a genetics company providing food in the Pacific region of Asia, recently partnered with Oasis Labs, a Web3 data management company, to identify genetic profiles. Tuan Cao, CEO of Genetica and co-founder, told the Cointelegraph that the goal behind this collaboration was to enhance medical accuracy by providing patients with data ownership and rights through GeneNFTs.
“This could be one of the most important NFT programs in the world. Our genetic profile is unique and should be denoted by NFT. GeneNFT is the symbolic ownership of a person’s genetic data. This allows us all to take real control and benefit from our data contribution.
According to Cao, traditional genetic testing companies such as 23andMe, for example, rely on intermediaries to collect patient data for research. As such, users need to trust central authorities to store sensitive health information securely. In addition, users have no incentive to choose to share their data with third parties. However, the identification of genetic data in the form of NFT has the potential to completely transform this model.
For example, Cao explained that Genetica’s partnership with Oasis Labs allows users to perform a standard genetic test and receive GeneNFT according to what their actual genetic profile represents. More importantly, Cao noted that GeneNFT owners will be gateways to their data, meaning they will have to provide access to third parties who want to use this information. He explained:
“A user who has GeneNFT also has the private key for this data. For example, if a pharmaceutical company wants to carry out a genetic test, it must send a proposal for access. The user can then sign the proposal to accept the access. “
Cao further explained that there are both financial and medical benefits associated with GeneNFT. “Financial benefits include revenue sharing, so users get paid when third parties request access to their data. We can issue these payments automatically due to blockchain technology and smart contracts, “said Cao.
Cao believes that the medical benefits of GeneNFT outweigh the financial incentives. “When users participate in a genetic study, a smart contract is used to ensure that patients receive treatment first if they contribute to a clinical trial. “Precise drug profiles for the treatment of certain diseases are based on genetic variants, which is how this model ultimately increases the accuracy of drugs,” he said.
Dawn Song, founder of Oasis Labs, told the Cointelegraph that GeneNFT can be viewed as a data-insured unchangeable symbol. “People usually think of NFT images as JPEG images, but data-backed NFT images combine blockchain with a personal computer to utilize certain data while still complying with data usage policies such as the EU Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR,” she said. Technically, Song explained that Genetica will use Oasis Network’s Parcel, a Data Protection Programming Interface (API), to represent genetic profiles. She explained:
“Given that genomes are the main characteristic of individuals, it is important that every platform that stores and processes genetic data provides the data with confidentiality at rest, in motion and, more importantly, in use. Parcel provides this capability by using data encryption at rest and in motion and a robust operating environment to maintain data confidentiality during use.
Given the size of the genetic data and the complex calculations that run on them, Song further explained that Parcel’s use of out-of-chain storage and a secure off-chain operating environment makes it possible to store and analyze genetic data. “Parcel also supports a policy framework used by data owners, or individuals as owners of their genome, to specify who can use their data and for what purpose,” she added. To date, Oasis Lab’s technology has enabled the identification of 30,000 genetic profiles, and the partnership with Genetica will increase this number to 100,000.
The healthcare industry already uses authentication
Although NFTs are a growing concept for the healthcare sector, it is interesting to recognize that identification in a completely different sense than NFT) is becoming more common as patients’ privacy becomes important.
For example, Seqster, a healthcare technology company founded in 2016, provides identified data to address the privacy needs of the healthcare industry. Ardy Arianpour, CEO and founder of Seqster, told Cointelegraph that the company identifies a variety of patient data, including genetic DNA data, for healthcare professionals:
“Seqster identifies a patient’s personal information such as his name, address, telephone, date of birth and email in a set of unique symbols that a company can then use to identify a patient within its network. Tokenization allows each organization, provider, payer, and researcher to have their own unique unique identifier representing the actual patient without informing the other party in the business who the patient really is.
According to Arianpour, identification in this regard is necessary to avoid disclosing personal health information about a patient without his or her explicit consent, which would be a violation of the Health Insurance Transfer and Liability Act (HIPAA). On the other hand, Arianpour explained that while identification is useful, it is not always necessary. “In a particular setting, such as clinical trials, the sponsor can create a ‘subject_id’ that uniquely identifies the patient. This ID can be shared within their company or with partners without disclosing the patient’s real ID. This is a more widely used standard among clinical trials and also meets FDA compliance, “he said.
Datavant, a healthcare healthcare data company, has also used authentication to ensure that patient information is private but accessible. McKinsey & Company recently showed an interview with Pete McCabe, CEO of Datavant, where he explained how IDs are used.
According to McCabe, Datavant defines authentication as “an advanced, non-proprietary authentication technology that replaces the private information of patients with encrypted symbols that cannot be reversed to display the original information. McCabe added that authentication in this regard “can create patient-specific tags in any database, which means that two different databases can now be merged using the patient tags to match the corresponding files without ever sharing underlying patient information.” .
Education is important
While it is noteworthy that the use of NFTs in healthcare has begun, a handful of challenges can hinder adoption. For example, Robert Chu, co-founder and CEO of Embleema – the data platform for custom drugs – explained in the EU Blockchain Observatory’s health report that data must be deconstructed in the United States without the possibility of retrieving patient information to comply with HIPAA. But Chu explained that this would be challenging when only a few patients are involved in the database:
“In this example, it might be impossible for any method to completely process the data. Should we then ban all research on rare diseases, even if patients agree to share identified data? In our opinion, it should not be. This example clearly shows that there needs to be a balance between privacy and innovation. “
To point out Chu, Cao mentioned that people who use GeneNFTs to participate in a clinical trial will receive treatment first if they submit their data. This would also mean that their data would be identifiable, which could lead to surveillance problems in specific areas such as the United States.
In addition, Cao shared that 90% of Genetica users are non-cryptographic. Therefore, Cao believes that the biggest challenge for the uptake of GeneNFTs is education. “We have to work extra hard to educate almost all of our users about the benefits of GeneNFT, explain how they provide data ownership, accessibility and utilization,” he said. Song echoed Cao, saying that user education was definitely the biggest obstacle to adoption. “Many users understand what NFT artwork is, but they do not know NFT data-insured.
Although this is currently the case, Song believes that NFTs’ data security has the potential to transform society when the world economy becomes data-driven. “This approach could grow rapidly, but we first need to get users to better understand this model. Compared to a few years ago, users’ awareness has fortunately been much higher with regard to new data protection methods.
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