Blockchain and Health: Will Healthcare NFTs be the Next Bored Ape?

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I don’t think so, but I do wonder whether the coins or tokens that yield healthcare access or access to items and services conducive to health can develop robust trading markets, increasing their value, and become a universal tool for accessing health care and improving health. As with an NFT, token, or coin, demand drives up value. In the case of healthcare tokens that incentivize healthy behavior, the token acts like a currency either for specific health and wellness costs like joining a gym or purchasing items from a wellness marketplace, e.g., Sweatcoin, Gymrewards, and Clinicoin) or for access to certain kinds of care, e.g., Dentacoin and Medical Chain’s MedTokens. Some tokens also are part of systems that track exercise and nutrition, or even sobriety accountability.

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NFTs (nonfungible tokens) may be a tool enabling compensation for blood, genetic, or medical information, resolving a key ethical lapse as people are generally not compensated for data. EncryptoGen wants to “be the Amazon of genetic material.” NFTs’ initial uses for storage of personalized data like blood, DNA, or electronic medical records proves they can give people or companies control over personal data. As the NFTs are sold or shared for research, there may be an opportunity to pay people for their data. NFTs could play a role in health through analysis and feedback. In the right hands, data revealing preventable health issues could be conveyed back to the subject of the original NFT. NFTs also could be used to incentivize health by rewarding replacement NFTs that reflect positive changes in a health, wellness, or medical record.

Bored Ape Kennel Club

But I wonder whether there is a way that a healthcare token can lead to a thriving resale market. I am thinking of some prerequisites for successfully making a meaningful change in access to care or in accessing those things most associated with good health.

cryptoslate screenshot healthcare tokens and coins

Notably, we already pay expensive insurance premiums. Some insurers have incentivized or covered gym memberships and healthy habits. If large American insurance companies operationalized an interconnected system using a health token, maybe a more robust market would naturally develop. While the tokens could be used for health or health care, it could feel like a flex spending account or a health savings account, yet those not needing them could sell them, creating a supply. That would allow some people who spend more on health, wellness, or medical care to purchase them from the supply, it could even out the distribution, and wellness itself could be more evenly distributed.

It could also resolve unspent medical dollars that are wasted at year end. The goodwill of the healthy to pay for the care of the sick is constantly tested, especially as many illnesses relate to choices and are preventable. The tokens could be like frequent flyer miles, and in the end, would make insurance coverage more efficient. Despite paying a lot for those who need more care, insurers benefit from many people who use very little. That is, those who pay premiums and use less health care, could sell tokens. Those who pay premiums and use more health care could achieve better coverage by buying tokens and using them to cover anything not reimbursed, or to cover wellness items like food and exercise, that may prevent the need for more expensive health care. The underlying theory of insurance would remain; people pay into a big pool to protect from risk, but with added efficiency. Over time, health itself could improve as people use tokens for wellness.

  • Hospital systems and insurers could issue tokens that can be spent at gyms, on healthy foods, or on medical care. A secondary market could develop. Hmm.

So many ideas are batted around and are in action in the blockchain healthcare space, but so far none seem universal. Many ideas are creating a path to person-centered health improvement.

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