There’s no shortage of news features out there about blockchain technology. You know that. And right next to the blockchain talk is the crypto hype (namely bitcoin). However, there’s so much more to blockchain than cryptocurrencies. In fact, many companies, both startups and mature enterprises, are pushing blockchain’s potential to address major 21st-century problems. But what can blockchain do beyond the cryptocurrency realm?
The Benevolence of Blockchain
One of the biggest concerns in the modern world right now is the sharing of personal data and its security. With security and privacy scares such as the Equifax breach last year or Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s clear that nothing really seems private anymore.
And the issue extends to other sectors such as health, finance and charities, where poor data integrity can yield devastating consequences. Fortunately, blockchain, with its distributed architecture and replicated ledgers to seal and display information securely, has the potential to keep such integral data safe and secure.
Blockchain Uses for Electronic Medical Records
Inconsistencies, inefficiencies and errors make current electronic medical records (EMRs) unreliable at best. These problems jeopardize patients’ health to the point of worsening illness or risking their life.
EMRs supported by blockchain technology can create more accessible and singular records by making it easier for doctors and specialists to keep track of patient data. That could eliminate miscommunication between nurses and doctors, over and under dosing of prescription drugs (due to inaccurate information) and the omission of important patient history. In addition to providing a single source of truth, blockchain also provides a built-in audit trail in case of future disputes.
Blockchain Uses for Financial Tracking & Fraud Prevention
Fraud and financial breaches seem to happen more than ever. It’s easy to blame negligence or weak security (i.e. using “1234567” as a password) for these breaches. Yet in many cases, they happen because there are too many processes needed to verify financial transactions. And that’s where hackers and fraudsters can take advantage of organizations.
The usage of blockchain in financial institutions can eliminate the need for having too many processes. All information can be shared and reviewed in real-time, and updates to the public ledger will only occur when all parties agree to the changes. That means there will be little need to give extra time for currency differences, third-party agreements and so forth.
Blockchain Uses for Supply Chain Management
Now that many supply chains have become international networks, they are far more complex than before. This increasing complexity makes it harder to keep an eye on inefficient vendors and suppliers, unethical practices and tracking inventory.
With blockchain used for logistics everyone involved in a particular supply chain can have access to a public ledger that keeps track of all information. That includes contracts, payment transactions and all other forms of data. That centralized hub of data has effects that trickle throughout organizations as well since it eliminates the time, money and effort usually expended to keep track of it all.
Blockchain Uses for Intellectual Property
Just as the “tortured artist” trope has lived on for centuries, so has the concept of the “ripped off artist”, the “starving artist” and the “artist-that-got-sued”. Intellectual property issues have affected creative people in all fields including music, film, video games, publishing and visual art.
Part of the reason for this is that intellectual property is frequently violated, and executives mismanage contracts. Creative individuals may not get their cut nor their credit because there are too many studios, labels, publishing houses and major networks involved with it all.
Blockchain systems, however, will allow all of these individuals to see what belongs to whom and who’s responsible for what. All thanks to a public ledger. Money can be fairly paid out in a timely and secure fashion (sans the bank) and credit can be given where it’s due. Emerging solutions are exploring the use of blockchain for digital rights management and enabling the content producer to know and charge for content when it is used.
Blockchain Uses for Charities and Nonprofits
Nonprofits have unfortunately seen more and more negative spotlight over the years. They’ve been infiltrated for corruption scandals and unethical crimes that completely violate the purpose of their existence. In fact, it’s led to a growing distrust among people who are now turning their backs on charity.