Updated: Nov 28, 2022
So much has attention has been paid to the NFT craze. One report suggests that the market size is expected to reach >$60Bn by 2031 with a CAGR of 19.2%.
But as we have also seen, the Bored Apes and CryptoPunks pictures have fallen from their dizzy heights to become virtually worthless, and sales on OpenSea have plummeted - after reaching a peak of approximately $5 billion in January, OpenSea sales fell sharply in August when it generated only $502 million — an 89% decline within seven months.
As the above report suggests, the types of NFT projects vary, but the most disappointing perhaps statistic is the market for utility NFTs. It is unfortunate, but not entirely surprising, that the focus has not landed here. In an hype cycle, in an unregulated market, cowboys will prevail.
At Catena.mba, however, we remain quietly optimistic. There is, perhaps, nothing more broken than Healthcare, and nothing quite as urgent as saving the planet. Our mission is to help companies meet these challenges in novel ways, to provide measurable value and to create leaders in uncontested markets. We believe that NFT's are part of that story. This article focuses on Healthcare, but the Circular Economy use cases are just as valid - something we will explore in a future article no doubt.
So what is the benefit for Healthcare companies?
Non-Fungible Tokens are simply tokens on a blockchain that are unique. Unlike a $1 bill, they are not interchangeable. Each NFT can therefore be used to represent and identify a unique asset of value that can then be digitally exchanged peer-to-peer once ownership is demonstrated. This part is important, because it not only adds an enormous level of security for the asset owner, it provides an unalterable log of the chain-of-custody for that asset. Let's explore some use cases.
The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain is a commonly used example for NFTs or blockchains in healthcare. Drug counterfeiting and cold-chain failure accountability are the oft-cited benefits. But consider also NFTs for prescriptions. If I prescribe an opioid to you, and send you the NFT ownership, you are able to transfer that ownership to a pharmacist who can burn the token and swap it for the real-world asset. The asset cannot be modified en-route and the ownership-chain is logged on the blockchain. The real-time database can be visible (with privacy preserving features) to law enforcement, public health officials and pharmaceutical companies wanting better inventory management or usage analytics.
Medical Credentials (or identity management in general) are equally well managed through the implementation of NFTs. They can also be used to tokenise documentation such as degrees, academic certificates, licenses and other qualifications, as well as medical records, birth and death certificates.
Blood Product tracking use cases have also been deployed. Several blood donation organisations are already leveraging this technology and urging people to donate blood using NFTs. Blood donors are given a unique token that can be tracked throughout the system. The donation can then be tracked from the time it is delivered to the hospital, via the blood bank, and to its intended recipient. The blood is then recorded in a digital “blood bank” by its NFT, where the demand for certain blood types can be monitored via a blockchain system and distributed to where it is required most.
For instance, BloodChain, a blockchain-based biological product tracing company, uses NFTs to minimise bottlenecks in the supply chain of biological products such as blood donations.
In the same way that medications or drug traceability can be better served using blockchain, there are opportunities for implanted devices (joint replacements or pacemakers).
Health Data Sharing
Much has also been written about health information exchange allowing patients more control over their data. This has implications for genomics, clinical trials or medical record sharing in general. There are of course many issues to iron out here, but the implications are profound when it comes to health data minimisation.
Removing data silos, enabling peer-to-peer sharing whilst preserving privacy and enhancing data integrity, seem like some compelling reasons for healthcare institutions to explore the value in NFTs, and blockchain more generally.
The current healthcare environment is plagued with data breaches, human errors and enormous administrative burden. These technologies are not only revolutionary, but arguably a necessity as companies search for better ways to care for patients and remain profitable.
Forget about the apes and the latest ponzi scheme. There is a lot of noise and it's drowning out the real opportunity. NFTs are powerful tools, and perhaps, once the chaos of recent crypto scams quietens down, we will see some real utility NFTs coming into view. That's why we started our firm, and why we continue to support innovators building a better healthcare future.
Catena.mba is a Strategy Consulting Firm that explores the use of emerging technologies for strategic advantage - with a focus on Healthcare and The Circular Economy.
To get in touch, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.