NFTs in healthcare – will data become the new currency?

We weigh in if medical data can be monetised and who will be the main stakeholders.

Medical data until now is siloed because of its unique intellectual property, and despite being highly valuable, monetising it remains a challenge as individuals are afraid of using or losing medical data. So, how could NFTs represent a unique potential in the digital age, and will patients be able to own their digital healthcare data? Aimedis founders Michael J. Kaldasch and Ben O. El Idrissi, who also serve as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, respectively, have the answer.

Aimedis, a blockchain-enabled healthcare platform, was among the first to launch an NFT science and medical data marketplace in 2021 and created the first NFTs for cardiologic patients containing ECG information, successfully treating patients in the metaverse.

It also works in partnership with the World Federation for Neurorehabilitation, which serves up to 100 million patients and aims to use medical Metaverse for VR rehabilitation services.  In an exclusive interview with Omnia Health, Kaldasch and Idrissi speak about how NFTs can offer solutions for several stakeholders within healthcare. 

How will NFTs change the way we use medical data? 

Kaldasch: Medical data has two major issues — it holds intellectual property and contains royalties that must be paid. NFTs are unique pieces of information on the blockchain that is incorruptible and can be connected to smart contracts, paying out royalties to all involved. Therefore, NFTs hold potential solutions for sharing and using medical data. 

This solution can be paired with specific conditions. For example, NFTs can be used within a limit by certain entities. Furthermore, it gives individuals the opportunity to track their data and receive feedback while maintaining anonymity, giving them control over their data. The NFTS on the marketplace that we have built are depersonalised anonymised data, which is why we believe that it could give patients, care providers, data and AI companies an opportunity to monetise and mainstream medical data, breaking up the silos. 

Idrissi: When it comes to healthcare information, usability is key to consider. This brings up the question ‘how can processes be facilitated in healthcare’ and blockchain could be the answer to that. However, when it comes to storing healthcare data on blockchain, size can be a challenge.  

With NFTs, we have elevated the game with seamless access and transferability. For example, collecting data is a process involving a variety of stakeholders in healthcare, from various institutions. These institutions receive data from hospitals and their various departments to create a valuable information package. 

These portions of data cannot be accessed through an easy transaction and are usually bound by a contract or agreement between the different stakeholders involved. NFTs not only include information, but also the agreement between stakeholders. This is appealing for professionals, as it minimises costs, improves time management, and prioritises efficiency. 

How will NFTs impact the field of scientific and medical research?

Kaldasch: Scientists can experience challenges in securing third party funding for their research. NFTs not only act as a tool to crowdfund their research but for the first time in science, researchers can become empowered to independently make new discoveries in fields like rare diseases. 

The pharmaceutical industry needs to be cash positive, so it can increase revenue for its stakeholders. However, this can hold them back from conducting research in niche fields, as there is no guarantee of viable results.

Even if the results are viable, they may not have a mass impact, with only a small fraction of patients in need of the drug. For Big Pharma this does not make practical sense, but NFTs can enable smaller groups of people to fund such research, opening a completely new door to developments in certain research fields.  

Source: Omnia Health Insights