Blockchain Secures the Surging Telemedicine Industry

But with how contagious this novel coronavirus is, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

And I should know. I was two years old when I traveled across the world with my mother during a previous pandemic.

As some of you may know, my mother was a waitress at a noodle shop near the Army base in Tokyo when she met my father, a private in the U.S. Army stationed in Japan. In 1957, my father had been transferred back to the states, and several months later, my mother and I were on our way to join him.

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However, that trip almost didn’t happen. At the very same time, Japan, along with the rest of Asia, was reeling from the Asian Flu pandemic. The Asian Flu outbreak caused 400,000 deaths in Japan alone and an estimated 2 million deaths worldwide.

The U.S. fared much better, with 70,000 deaths. Remember, this was before widespread air travel, so the worst of the pandemic was contained to Asia.

To be honest, my parents’ marriage was far from solid, and my mother didn’t want to leave Japan. But the Asian Flu was so deadly that my grandmother literally ordered my mother to move to America. She knew that the very old and the very young — like me — were at the most risk of dying from the Asian Flu.

So off we went.

Unfortunately, my parents divorced shortly after we arrived and my 20-year-old Japanese mother suddenly found herself living in a strange country with no family, no friends, no money and no place to live. Life was very hard.

That’s why I have to remind myself that this shelter-at-home stuff, while very boring, is nothing like the hardship my mother had to go through 60 years ago. COVID-19 is not the first serious, nor will it be the last, pandemic.

Despite all the pain, anxiety and frustration that these global events create, they surprisingly can have their benefits as well. An upside is the creation of new industries that have taken off in response to the new problems and needs that have arisen.

One of the skyrocketing industries during the COVID-19 pandemic has irrefutably been telemedicine.

Telemedicine is helping doctors provide clinical advice safely and remotely. There is unbound potential here. The obvious one right now is distance, allowing both doctors and patients to remain safely quarantined. The convenience of telemedicine also cuts down on cancelations and wait times, increases access to healthcare and reduces cost.

But there is some downside, as well. The biggest risk to this technology-driven approach is for hackers to access your private, sensitive medical data. As we learned with Zoom (ZM) last week, relying on our home or public Wi-Fi to do remote business opens all of us up to bad actors.

So, the big play for investors won’t necessarily be telemedicine providers, or other companies that are popping up to keep us connected. The big play will be in security for these services.

My bet for what should secure our data is blockchain. And telemedicine providers agree: They are rushing to incorporate blockchain technology into their products.

Just to refresh your memory, blockchain — also known as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) — is an open-source software composed of recorded transactions. But rather than be stored in a central location, those transactions are replicated, shared and synchronized to thousands of different locations using peer-to-peer protocol in near real-time.

Each computer individually processes and verifies every transaction. Then, verified transactions are bundled into a “block” and broadcast to all other computers in the network.

This process ensures the validity and security of each transaction. It makes it possible securely store and share patient data across the healthcare food chain, such as with insurance companies and drug stores, without exposing said data to risk.

That’s because without a central location to hack, ne’er do wells won’t know where to attack. In short, blockchain is an essential part of the safe and protected future of telemedicine.

You could invest in some of the red-hot telemedicine stocks, but I think the most profitable and lowest-risk way is by investing in the blockchain providers that actually makes telemedicine a safe alternative.

Stay safe.

Best wishes,

Tony Sagami

About the Technology Analyst

Even in the worst years for stocks, Tony was twice named “Portfolio Manager of the Year” by Thomson Financial. He was one of the first to introduce computer software for trading stocks. And in the early 2000s, he wrote “The Supernet,” providing a vision of the future internet that was far ahead of its time.

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