A Solution In Storage: How Blockchain Breaks Down The Biggest Barriers To Medical Tourism

A Solution In Storage: How Blockchain Breaks Down The Biggest Barriers To Medical Tourism

Few markets have more potential than medical tourism. From improving healthcare affordability to opening up a wider range of services to allowing people to seek better care, medical tourism benefits patients and providers all over the globe. This explains why the industry has grown so rapidly in recent years, and is projected to keep growing at a brisk pace. As healthcare prices rise and quality concerns increase, more and more patients are seeing the benefits of seeking care abroad.

Unfortunately, for all the potential of medical tourism, this industry creates some serious challenges. Getting care in another country is risky, both because it’s harder to judge provider quality and because each nation has its own epidemiological issues. Medical tourism also creates problems with payments, advertising, and a host of other elements, which can negatively affect both patients and providers. But thanks to blockchain technology, it may soon be possible to eliminate these problems and create a secure, transparent, and efficient medical tourism market.

Barriers to Growth in Medical Tourism

By far the single greatest problem with medical tourism is the risk it presents to patients. Even under the best of circumstances, different countries have different epidemiological issues, meaning different diseases abound. If a patient hasn’t grown up in the country where they get care, they won’t have the same immunities to those diseases, raising the risk of infection while at the hospital. Even the best physicians may have trouble controlling for those issues if they’re not familiar with the patient’s home country. As a result, there is a high risk of infection and other potentially fatal complications.

Compounding these epidemiological issues are a host of other problems that harm both providers and patients, including:

  • Low Transparency- Different countries set different standards for how to become a physician or other healthcare provider. This makes it hard for patients to tell who is truly qualified to provide their care, and leads to high rates of fraud and shoddy treatments. Not only is this bad for patients, but it gives honest providers a bad name.
  • Marketing Limitations- Providers often have trouble marketing themselves internationally, especially if they work for relatively small medical practices. This is bad for their revenues, and it makes it harder for patients to identify the provider who can best address their needs.
  • Payment Problems- Seeking care abroad often requires paying in different currencies. This can be difficult, especially if one or both of the countries does not have sound money.
  • Data Security Shortcomings- Patients need to provide comprehensive health information to their providers. When they deliver this information to providers in other countries, there is a heightened risk that it will not be kept secure, especially if data security standards are lower where the providers live.

Because of these problems, many patients are unwilling to seek care abroad, while physicians often can’t attract those who are willing. As long as they persist, the medical tourism market will not reach its full potential.

Storage Solutions

As intractable as these problems may seem, one technology holds the key to solving them: blockchain. A method of storage that involves tying pieces of data together into immutable chains, blockchain creates records that are virtually impossible to tamper with. This makes it possible to develop a number of resources that directly address the problems of the medical tourism market, including:

  • Secure Databases- Blockchain technology allows for the creation of databases where information is safe from alteration. Such databases can be used to gather comprehensive information on physicians and other healthcare providers. Patients can then use this data to ascertain whether a provider is truly qualified to perform the procedure that they need. Blockchain databases can also store information on epidemiological issues in each country, so providers can easily tell what particular steps they need to take to protect medical tourists.
  • Physician & Patient Matching- Based on information stored in blockchain databases, medical tourism platforms can match patients to providers who offer what they’re looking for. Not only does this allow patients to get the best care at the best price, but it solves providers’ publicity problems, so they can bring in patients even if they don’t know how to market internationally.
  • Cryptocurrency Payments- Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are issued according to instructions stored in a blockchain. The security of blockchain technology makes it easier to regulate their value and prevent the kind of irresponsible issuance that plagues many fiat currencies. With a secure cryptocurrency designed specifically for payments within the medical tourism market, patients should be able to pay for care in any country, regardless of monetary issues in that country or in their homeland.
  • Smart Contracts- Smart contracts are agreements that are enforced automatically, according to terms that are stored in a blockchain database. These contracts have a number of uses in the medical tourism market, including as a way to ensure that patients have insurance. They can also be used to cut down on provider fraud. A smart contract can specify that patients’ payments will only be transferred to providers once the promised care has been delivered, making it more difficult for providers to steal from patients by selling fraudulent services.
  • Security Features- Because blockchain databases are so hard to tamper with, any patient information stored in them should be secure against theft, tampering, and all other cybersecurity issues.

As a digital platform that coordinates medical tourism, Medipedia is taking advantage of all these blockchain features and more. Our goal is to make medical tourism as safe, transparent, and effective as possible. To learn more about all we’re doing to achieve this goal, visit our website today.

Hayden P.

A blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiast

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