Blockchain: A new technology for global health development?
Blockchain, the technological innovation behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, has wide applications beyond finance, such as in global health. Scholars at the Robert Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and Harvard Medical School elaborate upon this potential application of blockchain in a 2017 analysis published in BMJ Global Health.
The academics write that improving access to and quality of health care across the globe relies on increased capital. Health spending in low-income countries stands at a fraction of that in high-income countries — $120 per person compared to $5,221, according to World Bank data from 2014. Increased investments in the health systems of low-income nations could build the workforce and infrastructure necessary for improvements.
But, the scholars write, a lack of transparency in tracking these transactions (i.e., where investments are going and what returns they achieve), discourages potential investors. They suggest blockchain, a technology “built atop a network that makes trusted, secure, immutable and interoperable records of every transaction,” as one potential solution.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Magill.