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Canadian healthcare startup starts accepting bitcoin
Canada-based digital health platform Ask The Doctor has announced that it is now accepting bitcoin payments, becoming the first healthcare company to accept the digital currency from its users.
The startup said that it is accepting bitcoin as a new way to further help protect the privacy of the patients. Users wishing to keep their healthcare private would now be able to hide their medical payments from their bank/credit card company.
“Many of our users ask extremely sensitive questions from teenage pregnancy to STD's to drug use that they are too afraid to go to their own doctor’s office to get help for. On top of that, many users don’t want their family members to know. While it does take some extra effort to have complete anonymity using Bitcoin, it’s certainly a large improvement over a credit card,” Prakash Chand, CEO of Ask The Doctor, said.
Users can choose to pay for advice from a physician by Bitcoin on Ask The Doctor’s desktop platform. In addition, Ask The Doctor also said that it will launch the Bitcoin payment option on its mobile platform later this month.
Last month, Ask The Doctor started accepting an additional five currencies and has begun translating its large library of Q&A pairs to multiple languages all with the goal of making doctor-created knowledge easier for patients globally to access.
Launched in 2010, Ask The Doctor is a digital health platform accessible to any patient with an internet connection that allows them to type a question to a General Physician or Specialist. In 2011, it became an official partner of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), publishers of PubMed. In 2016, Ask The Doctor reached the 5 million question milestone.
Healthcare Industry and Blockchain
The global healthcare industry is gradually opening up to the potential of the blockchain technology that underpins digital currency such as bitcoin. Earlier this month, Hyperledger project announced the formation of Hyperledger Healthcare Working Group (HLHC Working Group) that will aim to house and foster technical and business-level conversations about appropriate applications for blockchain technology in the healthcare industry.
In statements, Scott Gottlieb, Resident Fellow at American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said that blockchain technology has the potential to make the market for health insurance more robust, competitive, and high value.
In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has also expressed interest in the innovative technology. In July, the HHS announced a competition wherein it sought paper submissions on the topic of blockchain technology and its potential uses in the healthcare industry.