World’s 1st babies born on blockchain birthed in Netherlands

The first two blockchain babies were born in the Netherlands last week. Health insurer VGZ is experimenting with an app using this technology, mainly known for cryptocurrency, to reduce the administrative burden in maternity care, Financieele Dagblad reports. 

The main advantage of blockchain is that all computers on the same network sees exactly the same data. In this experiment, parents to be can use an app on their smartphone to see exactly how many hours of maternity care they are entitled to. The maternity nurse will use the same app to log hours every time she visited the new family, and the mother can indicate whether this information is correct. That data is then directly available to the health insurer, which in principle can pay the care provider immediately.

This is a joint experiment by health insurer VGZ, three maternity centers, and using blockchain technology from the Zorginstituut. "It's all about the administrative processes for now", Hugo te Kaat of VGZ said to BNR. "The system is actually for all of us, that is a property of blockchain. Everyone looks at the same data, which creates a lot of confidence in the chain."

Two babies were born last week with their parents used this app. VGZ thinks it will need about 40 to 50 participants to determine whether this app actually works. 

Maternity center LiemersCare, one of the centers participating in the experiment, is already excited about the reduction in paperwork this app could result in, quality officer Bert Doppenberg said to NOS. "The practice now is that the hours worked by our employees are put on paper with a signature from the customer. Then the forms are checked at the office and they then go to the care provider, which checks them again. A few weeks later it is then paid." That entire process disappears with this blockchain app. 

If the experiment works, it will reduce a great deal of the administrative burden in maternity care, and eventually also in other areas of health care. But that will likely cost some jobs, Te Kaat said. "That is simply what happens when things are digitized. We need to think about what we are going to do with that. It's one thing we can't do much about, it just happens", he said to BNR.