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“PharmacyCoin:” Will It Catch On In The UK?

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Arun Nadarasa has a fascinating journey – a long fortuitous path that has led to his current intellectual challenge involving the world of cryptocurrency. Born in France, he moved to the UK with his parents in 2002 and began his Pharmacy at the University of Bath four years later.

He first started working as working a community pharmacist in 2013 where he began investing most of his time and earning on Krump, a street dance popularized in the United States, featuring free, expressive, exaggerated, and highly energetic movement.  Later he decided to merge his background as a pharmacist and dancer into one by forming what is known as the “Movement Pharmacy Association.”

After deciding to write a book to raise the awareness about his project, in December 2016, he came up with his next idea called “Pharmacy Virtual Reality” where his interest in disruptive technologies grew stronger thanks to the insightful engagement he experienced on LinkedIn. It was during an interview this year regarding his forthcoming book with the eHealth evangelist Denise Silber that the word Blockchain was first mentioned to him.

As luck would have it, he also received an email from the digital health company InnovateMedTec also about the Blockchain. This sparked idea for “PharmacyCoin” (DRX).

PharmacyCoin Defined

According to Nadarasa, PharmacyCoin (DRX) is a digital currency he’s proposing to support health & well-being services (like Social and Digital Prescribing) offered by Community Pharmacists. The goal is to speed up innovation and entrepreneurship within the sector without interference from third-party intermediaries. It will work by rewarding both the pharmacist for providing world-class services and the patient for improving his/her health and wellbeing parameters.

He says that DRX signifies the three digit for PharmacyCoin when it was created on Parity for Ethereum; D stands for Digital and Rx is the latin word for Prescription, or “Digital Prescription.”

According to Nadarasa, when PharmacyCoin achieves mass adoption, it will help address the oversupply of pharmacists in the UK proactively through the DRX economy as the current National Health Service (NHS) budget will be reduced and will only worsen. Given NHS’ severe challenges which include cost-cuts of up to £30 billion ($39.1 billion) in both medicine and social care by 2020, social and digital prescribing for the pharmacy friend he believes is the solution.

He says that in order to maintain the integrity of the profession, pharmacy contracts should be used to provide services for an increased footprint in the community including meeting the needs of localities like Medicine Use Reviews (MURs), New Medicine Service (NMS) and Flu vaccinations.

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“Launching a new service takes lots of time and effort from the pharmacists and with the given situation of increasing pressures of time and costs, we cannot innovate. Smart Pharmacy Contracts will address this as it will require less bureaucracy. Moreover, a digital currency will enable greater transparency in the delivery of services rather than saying.”

In offering a futurist look at how all of this could shape up, Nadarasa offers the following predictions:

  • It could be used to track over-the-counter medicines purchased by a patient through timestamps to monitor potential abuse like cough mixture (to aid sleep), or laxatives uses (women trying to lose weight).
  • The possibility of accessing patient records in a manner similar to Estonia’s Blockchain technologies.
  • Entries could be made with regard to patient social activities like going to the gym or attending a yoga class. This information can then be reviewed at a follow-up consultation with the pharmacist, giving the latter  a clearer picture of the patient’s habits.
  • The integration of IoT to wearable trackers to measure health parameters like iron levels, ECG, oxygen saturation, pulse rate, sugar level and blood pressure to help the doctor and/or pharmacist recognise alarming results or trends which may not show up at the consultation. This will help promote “precision digital health.”

Most importantly says Nadarasa, he believes his movement will force a shift from a “scarcity mindset” to an “abundance mindset” among the pharmacists. “We are being underutilised and by getting involved with disruptive technologies with PharmacyCoin, it will promote the development of PharmacyTech globally and will lead to a renaissance for the profession as we will be empowered to do so. ‘Pharmapreneurship’ will become the norm with DRX where the population will become healthier and live longer thanks to our existing footprint within the community.”

Blockchain Expert Brennan Bennett Weighs In

Bennett is the founder of Blockchain Healthcare Review, an online forum that explores the intersection between blockchain technology and the future of health information technology (HIT) data governance. He says that the initiative behind PharmacyCoin is a great example of how blockchain technology can bring health care back to its community driven roots. “The idea that a blockchain solution can deliver an economy of scale solution for programs like Social Prescribing, where time and remuneration is lackluster, is a really good example of how providers and specialists within the U.S. healthcare system need to be looking at blockchain technology to deliver more personalized care.”

Bennett goes on to note that there are several notable trends that this coin has the opportunity to spark. One is the B2C side of healthcare in relation to blockchain adoption in the form of a specific specialty. In the U.S., he says, there’s a lot of interest in simply controlling the health data. PharmacyCoin he says builds a point-of-care system specifically for the consumer, empowering pharmacy professionals to work more efficiently, and personally, with their patients.

“Basically, monetizing social prescribing practices has the potential to allow the UK pharmacy sector to create their own economy more or less, designed by fellow professionals and thereby tailored to their needs.”

“Maybe this is easier said than done in comparison to the U.S. because we are not on a single payer system, but this use case should really spark the interest of specialists in the U.S. as well in terms of how they can work together to streamline patient care and outcomes reporting. Organizations in the U.S. can look at this case study and learn that there are immense benefits tied to using blockchain at a more local level.”