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Incentivizing Healthy Behaviors With Blockchain Technology

Healthy lifestyles are big these days.

The Global Wellness Institute, which studies emerging trends in the field, found that the industry is a $3.7 trillion market worldwide. With this, growing numbers of entrepreneurial businesses that promote incentive-based wellness activities are sprouting up globally.

It’s here that the use of a blockchain can offer an interesting case study. The open-source wellness platform Clinicoin is one such company that rewards users with cryptocurrency for engaging in healthy behaviors. Driven by a blockchain-based domain, the platform aims to connect people, developers and providers worldwide, improving global health, wellness and research.

This project is the brainchild of co-founders Jay Sachdev and Noel Chandler, who met while running separate companies in the same office space. They are the founders of Mosio — a software company that provides mobile text messaging solutions — which launched Clinicoin.

After winning the 2008 South by Southwest mobile category, they started licensing their software to a number of different industries, including healthcare and clinical research. Since 2014, Mosio has been focused solely on creating patient engagement solutions via mobile messaging for healthcare and research.

According to the duo, Clinicoin was created after seeing that there was more that could be done to improve patient engagement through gamification and rewards. It was designed as an open-source, developer-friendly solution, providing easy access to mobile devices to individuals and organizations seeking to address persistent challenges in health and wellness.

Below is a brief interview with Chandler about his views regarding the immense possibilities involving the intersection between blockchain and health and wellness. 

What is Clinicoin?

Clinicoin is a health and wellness blockchain platform, backed by a community-driven cryptocurrency ecosystem. At first look, it’s an app that rewards people for participating in healthy behaviors, like running, yoga and meditation. Where it differs from all the “get paid to workout” services is that it focuses on collaboration with health and research organizations, providing a secure (and HIPAA compliant) channel where they can communicate with users and develop applications. Ultimately, they are connected to a community of users interested in maintaining their physical and mental health. 

It has an incentive system, correct? And how does that work?

There are two key ways. First there is the community rewards pool where 600 million clinicoin (CLIN) tokens are reserved with the intent of being distributed to people for participating in healthy activities. They are logged through the app itself or by verified third parties.

Second are what we call “token distribution events.” These enable providers in the system (doctors, research teams, health organizations, etc.) to reward users for completing desired activities, like showing up for appointments, completing surveys, taking their medicine and being adherent to protocols.

Can you offer a practical example of how it works?

Here’s one: It is estimated that each missed appointment costs a doctor $125, a significant cost that can add up quickly. Doctors can use Clinicoin not only to send their patients a reminder to show up for their appointments, but to let them know that by showing up on time, they’ll be rewarded with a certain number of CLIN tokens, effectively gamifying the experience.

What broader emerging trends do you believe we’ll see in the near future relative to the intersection of blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and wellness? 

I recently spoke with a director at the World Health Organization about our project to get her take on how this could be used in much-needed areas. Nearly every idea she had about how this could be useful revolved around getting key information to families in hard-to-reach areas regarding better decisions they could make to improve health and reduce illnesses. In those cases, they could be incentivized via cryptocurrency to receive the messages, take actions and respond to surveys for data collection.

Meanwhile, the telemedicine industry is growing rapidly and we expect to see more uses cases involving mobile phones and cryptocurrencies to improve health to those in rural areas where clinics or hospitals are not nearby, but where remote assistance can be provided. With blockchain projects providing a more efficient flow of information and safer ways to exchange health data, practitioners will be able to better assist patients in those remote places.

And then, while the core goal of our project is about connecting people, we see a large benefit of integrating with artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots to offer people useful digital health tools within the app. AI on the blockchain can be used to make much more complex decisions inside a smart contract. As AI improves, the blockchain can evaluate whether commitments are met and release funds to the appropriate party, similar to what an escrow agent does now. I expect that we’ll see some truly innovative technologies come out of AI applications that help improve health and wellness by providing access and incentives to more people at less cost.

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