Tech

Will your medical records be turned into NFTs soon?

Something’s in the works.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
May 1, 2022

The recent question circulating on the internet has been: Do you really need to convert your medical records into NFTs? The HIPAA doesn’t do a great job at protecting patient data, so a group of bioethicists and other scholars appear to believe that it would be a good idea to repeal it.

 

Given the lengths to which you must go in order to acquire your medical data, it’s natural to assume that hospitals value patient privacy. Federal regulations enable hospitals to sell your medical data to corporations without your agreement as long as they remove your name, address, and other identifying information from those records.

 

Or, to put it another way, as an editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine puts it: “Although patients (and their physicians) still have difficulty obtaining complete medical record information in a timely fashion, HIPAA policies permit massive troves of digital health data to traverse the medical-industrial complex unmonitored and unregulated.”

 

While this may appear to be a rash step, new research from a diverse team of legal scholars, health information exchange professionals, and bioethicists proposes an intriguingly modern answer to a rising privacy problem: What if we convert our medical records into NFTs?

 

Researchers believe that NFT contracts might be used to give people more control over their data and personal health information. The study’s authors write: “NFTs have evolved into digital contracts composed of metadata to specify access rights and terms of exchange. Their nature as metadata means that NFTs point to digital content but are not the content itself.”

 

They go on to say that it is this digital contract that forbids the unlicensed online circulation of artwork, which has since spread to sports, entertainment, and even healthcare, commoditizing digital data and generating a multibillion-dollar market. In essence, the digital contract and its protection are what distinguishes something as an NFT.

 

In the middle of what some are dubbing the “NFT mania,” the underlying technology has the ability to fix data security holes and provide patients more control over how their information is shared. That being said, it is worth noting that the NFT space is still relatively young, with data security issues and intellectual property disputes—all of which would need to be handled before such a system could be beneficial for securing medical information.

 

Nonetheless, scientists are hopeful that further research like theirs will drive our currently faulty healthcare system toward a more democratic approach to personal data.

 

In other news, ​​Meta is developing ways for Instagram to sell and create NFTs.

 

Photo via Fassnet Crypto Blog