Next-Generation Data to Revolutionize Latam Medical IndustryBy Andrew Ahachinsky | Mon, 02/28/2022 - 13:00
As the digital market continues to expand and our lives become more intertwined with technology, data is becoming more important than it’s ever been. Recently, data has overthrown oil as the most valuable resource in the world. Let that sink in: data is more valuable than the technology that uses it and the energy that powers it. This is a statistic that foreshadows how the world will be shaped in the near future. Already, we see that the most successful companies in the world are those that take the most advantage of data and technology. Soon, every industry in the world is going to need to move online and use data in some way to survive.
What I want to talk about today is that there is an opportunity to revolutionize the Latin American medical industry. A new generation of data is coming, and those who will benefit the most are those who utilize it early and know what it’s about. This next step in data is decentralization, and Web3. With these systems, we will be able to fix the many existing problems that are stunting the medical industry today. Decentralization will allow patient data to be more secure, grant labs and pharmaceutical companies the ability to conduct research faster, and let us treat patients fairly and without discrimination. But what is decentralization, how can it improve the medical industry, and why is it so important that we start integrating it as soon as possible?
The majority of us probably don’t see data being as valuable as it truly is because we’re mostly exposed to “loose” data. The only way to own a piece of data like a file or a document is to keep it on your computer and show it to no one. As soon as you do show that code to someone, they can copy it, paste it, and take it. There can be security measures on a file, but it’s still difficult for some people to think that they could “own” a piece of data the same way they own a pair of shoes or their house. After all, a pair of shoes can’t be copied as easily as a piece of code.
Decentralization is a solution to this. It’s a way to organize data on a network that gives a user full ownership of certain data. This is the same system that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use to let users own specific pieces of data and use them as currency. Web3 is simply the next iteration of the internet that will utilize decentralization, showcasing that this is going to be a nearly universal system in the future.
Decentralization is the way that we can finally own data and use it to our advantage. One of the biggest problems in the Latin American medical industry is that patients don’t truly own their medical data; it is usually managed by a third-party company. This system introduces a myriad of issues – it can be difficult for patients to access their own information from the companies, the companies can sell this data for a profit, and it can be a slow process for doctors and other professionals to retrieve medical information on their patient. All of these challenges and more contribute to a feeling among patients where they don’t entirely trust how their data is being handled. But this distrust doesn’t manifest itself toward the companies that hold their medical data, it becomes directed toward the medical industry as a whole. The current system we rely on discredits the remarkable healthcare workers who do their best every day to maintain the well-being of others.
With decentralized systems, no one, not even the companies who run the network, will have unauthorized access to a patient’s medical information. That information is owned and handled by one person: the patient. But this doesn’t hinder a medical expert’s ability to access patient information. If anything, this process becomes almost instantaneous. Without having to be approved by a third party, there will be almost no wait time to retrieve data. A doctor could use a medical key to access a patient’s data, know everything they need to know about their patient to treat them, and even update their record. It’s almost a perfect solution – a way to provide patients security and peace of mind, while also making it easier for doctors to do their jobs.
Decentralization and Web3 are already being used to significantly improve banking. Banks are using decentralized networks to transfer money faster, easier, and with less margin of error. The same could easily be done to improve the rate at which medical data is transferred between labs. Medical labs could be using decentralized networks to share sensitive information and speed up research in a way that was never thought possible. We can use this speed and security to greatly improve the peer review process as well as clinical trials. Health insurance companies would even benefit from having immediate access to preventative programs for chronic conditions. All this, while still giving full ownership to the original authors of the research.
In conclusion, I would say that the world is getting ready to take a giant leap forward to treat data as the valuable commodity that it is. Decentralization has spread throughout multiple industries across the world, and there is a clear opportunity to use it here to improve the way we practice medicine and health. Moreso, we have the chance to still be early in this innovation. The Latin American medical industry has the chance to be first adopters, and be the ones who lead the world into a new age of medical data. If we can take this chance now, we could see the benefits as early as tomorrow, and for decades to come.