What role could NFTs play in healthcare?

Non-fungible tokens could be used to transform the way patients gain access to their personal health records, Fast Company reported Feb. 4.

The report cited a Feb. 3 journal of Science publication out of Baylor College of Medicine, where a team of bioethics, law and informatics scholars wrote about the potential NFTs can have on the healthcare record-keeping system.

According to the authors, patients can be disenfranchised when it comes to their personal health records as it can be distributed or commercialized once it leaves their hands, but NFTs can give patients ownership of their records through its blockchain ledger. The blockchain ledger, a digital ledger of transactions, could allow patients to track the sale of their data, giving them the opportunity to stop it or sell it themselves, according to the report.  

But, the authors did warn that the integration of NFTs in the healthcare industry could be challenging as they still contain roadblocks. For example, NFTs are still vulnerable to data and security flaws, disputes over intellectual property rights and aren't widely understood yet, according to the report. But, researchers still suggest that they have potential:

"Federal regulations already give patients the right to connect an app of their choice to their doctor’s electronic health record and download their data in a computable format," Kenneth Mandl, MD, director at Boston Children’s Hospital, professor at Harvard Medical School and coauthor of the paper wrote. "It’s intriguing to contemplate whether NFTs or NFT-like technology could enable intentional sharing of those data under smart contracts in the future."

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