Blockchain During COVID-19 Crisis to Streamline Critical Medical Supply Chain
The novel coronavirus pandemic has led to fast track deployment of blockchain projects across geographies with the sole aim to battle the crisis. Very recently the World Health Organization deployed its blockchain platform for sharing data related to the disease. The project aims at the early detection of contagion clusters through immutable sharing and curating of essential data.
Other DLT based corona projects led by governments and independent organizations both have made headlines in recent times. The latest being, China’s second-largest courier company using blockchain to deliver critical medical supplies amid the pandemic.
Depletion of Medical Supplies Due COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the depletion of critical medical supplies such as masks, sanitizers, test-kits, ventilators, etc. Even the most developed nations are struggling to make ends meet, laying bare the broken global healthcare system.
Companies all around the world have centered all their focus on transforming supply chains to produce critical supplies to meet the demand. However, in times like these when everything is on fast track mode, it becomes tough to jump across the hurdles created by lack of trust and transparency between supply, demand and the financial ecosystem, which is crucial for any supply chain management. Luckily, we have Blockchain to take care of that.
Blockchain Addressing Medical Supply Chain Management in a Crisis
There are mainly five areas of importance in a supply chain which are product requirement, the credibility of the supplier, payments, customs, and distribution. Blockchain addresses each one of the above mentioned and streamlines the process in the most efficient manner. Here’s how a blockchain-backed medical supply chain works in 5 easy steps:
- A blockchain-backed system offers a protocol for healthcare systems to constantly update the production units with the latest supply requirements along with the exact specifications.
- It enables the healthcare units to assess the credibility of the supplier, such as quality control and whether the manufacturers are being able to meet with the requirements in the quality and volume of the product.
- Blockchain platforms act as a trade finance mechanism that makes sure that the payments are processed to the manufacturing units and other involved parties instantly, keeping a record of all transactions in an immutable shared ledger.
- Getting medical supplies across geographies requires custom certifications that can be validated and facilitated by a blockchain-based system. That makes it a much less time taking process and transparent as well.
- During an ongoing crisis, it is important to track the medical supplies and ensure that they are going through the right channels and then reach the final destination without any issues in between. Blockchain enables secure tracking of the supplies, ensuring transparency of the entire supply chain.
Use Case – Chinese Courier Company’s Use of Blockchain
As mentioned briefly at the beginning of this write-up, a Chinese courier company is utilizing Blockchain technology to check the provenance and quality of critical medical supplies. The system as of yet, as per reports has proven to be quite beneficial in secure tracking and transportation of medical goods, ensuring reliability and top quality.
The company reportedly has combined blockchain along with Big Data to build a logistics platform that helps in tracking, authentication, and record-keeping of the medical goods. It has been built to mitigate counterfeiting risks within the supply chain as well.
As China gradually returns to normalcy after bouncing back from the outbreak ridden state, it has been reported that the country has seen the deployment of more than 20 blockchain-based applications in February just to fight the COVID-19 situation, some of which were collaborations with the local authorities.