Here at Making Sense, we’re lucky to work with a lot of different types of organizations— from healthcare companies to law enforcement. Each new project offers us valuable insight into not just the company we’re working with, but their industry as well. That gives us lots of food for thought.
After more than a decade developing projects in certain industries, we’ve come to know a lot about the pain points, the goals, and the culture of companies in those industries. We’ve also watched the rise of blockchains and we’ve come to a conclusion: of all the industries into which we get insight, these three seem most primed to benefit from the use of blockchain technology:
- Law Enforcement
Let’s take a look, shall we?
One area where blockchain can make a huge difference is healthcare. Patient records (Electronic Health Records or ‘EHR’) can be securely stored on a private blockchain where a patient’s vast network of disparate healthcare providers can share data on that person. Years of regulation have stifled innovation in EHR but blockchain may be the thing to finally push this area toward the future.
The ability to share EHR across networks can lead to several benefits, including better communication, fewer mistakes, better treatment, and better diagnoses.
- Better treatment: When each member of healthcare value chain sees the entire picture rather than only what’s in their own records, they get a better sense of what’s going on with a patient.
- Fewer mistakes: With the shared data on prescription drugs, healthcare providers are less likely to make drug interaction mistakes. Blockchain technology also eliminates the risk of different healthcare vendors holding outdated versions of a patient’s record.
- More insight: A blockchain can unify disparate information about a patient that might not ever come together and be seen as a whole by the various providers. That allows for a more holistic picture of a patient’s health, via lifestyle and other types of data points.
- Innovation: Since data can be accessed without giving away patients’ identity, researchers can tap into a whole new world of insight that can be used for advancements in healthcare.
Researchers at MIT have put a blockchain application to use at Beth Israel hospital. Called MedRec, the app tracked EHR of patients for six months and was so successful more pilot programs are sprouting up at other hospitals. The app integrates with different local data storage solutions already in existence at a diverse group of healthcare providers. It allows them to exchange EHR, it governs access, and helps with auditing. Researchers provide the mining in exchange for access to the data for research purposes.
Technology has already disrupted law enforcement. Just think of the impact of camera footage from police body cams and the evidence they provide. Authenticating that digital evidence is a problem, since any video editor with a minimum amount of expertise can alter footage to change the evidence. That makes it hard to use officer-worn camera footage as evidence in courtroom trials. Blockchain to the rescue — here’s how:
- Video data and metadata would be stored on a blockchain ledger (device that recorded the clip, where the footage was shot, time, etc)
- The blockchain would create a ‘hash’ for each clip, which is akin to a fingerprint. Even the most minute of changes means a different fingerprint
- Videos are uploaded to a public blockchain but only the police would be able to add to it
- Digital assets would be time stamped and the person who wrote the asset to the blockchain would always be identifiable
In the UK, the Ministry of Justice is already exploring using blockchain to authenticate officer-worn camera footage.
And already in the United States, there are blockchain solutions on the market for police departments who want faster access to information for their officers. COPsync Mobile, a product we’ve helped build, searches a hodge podge national network of databases to give officers vehicle registration information and criminal records of a vehicle’s owner, all in real time and with only the input of a license plate number.
(If you’d like to learn more about the Law Enforcement projects we’ve been involved, you can take a look at this article from our blog about the creation of Vidtac.)
For financial transactions, the beauty of the blockchain is that there’s no need for banks: you eliminate the middleman. For agriculture, the beauty of blockchain is that it allows all parties to see exactly who the middlemen are, and that each member of the supply chain is paid what they’re worth. That’s good news for farmers and retailers alike. Farmers need fair pay and retailers need to know they’re getting what they pay for.
The area of agriculture where blockchain has so far made the most impact is with supply chain transparency. For example, FarmShare uses blockchain tokens on a digital exchange where stakeholders trade food deliveries of locally-grown organic food.
Thanks to the accurate, trust-based ledger that keeps track of every step of a food’s journey, players will always know where their food came from and when. That’s important in an industry where so much value swings on the shelf-life of the products. It’s also increasingly important as consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of sourcing the food they eat.
A Final Word…
These three examples of exciting uses for blockchain technology are only the beginning. There are far more sectors where blockchain is also being used already, such as finance and insurance. There’s also the future, as leaders wake up to the possibilities and developers work to make those possibilities come to life. We’re excited to be a part of it all and we look forward to new possibilities and partnerships ourselves, in our own little corner of the world.