Walmart has filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for blockchain technology that stores critical personal medical information in a wearable device that can be accessed by paramedics during an emergency. This technology could save lives if a patient is unresponsive since paramedics will be able to get all the information they need from the device even if a patient is unconscious. This is perhaps one of the first blockchain applications that directly saves lives.
The patent was filed on 13 December 2017 and became visible to the public on 14 June 2018, and is titled ‘obtaining a medical record stored on a blockchain from a wearable device’. The patent has not been finalized yet and will probably have to go through the patent prosecution process for at least the next year, where the UPSTO determines if a patent is truly unique and worthy of patent protection.
The medical records of a patient would be stored on a blockchain with an associated public key and private key. This would provide immutable storage of medical records that cannot be manipulated since it will be cryptographically secure, so paramedics that access the records will know they are accurate.
Paramedics will be able to access the critical medical information by scanning the wearable device with a radio frequency identification scanner (RFID). The paramedics then use a biometric scanner to scan a bodily feature of the patient, such as fingerprints or an eye, which unlocks the private key. The private key and public key is then used to access the needed medical information.
Hospitals and emergency rooms can integrate this blockchain system, so paramedics can send the critical medical information instantly to where they are taking the patient before they arrive.
This new blockchain technology application invented by Walmart is perhaps one of the first examples of blockchain directly being used to save lives.
Walmart has been very busy patenting blockchain technology, including a blockchain system that controls electricity consumption, a blockchain-based marketplace where customers can resell products bought at the store, and autonomous vehicles that run on a blockchain which can be used to deliver products. It’s only a matter of time until some of these groundbreaking blockchain innovations are put into operational use, possibly spreading blockchain technology to more people than ever before.
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