By now, most of you have heard of Bitcoin. The digital currency has attracted lots of attention since it emerged a few years ago. It is the first successful application of the blockchain, a digitized, decentralized public ledger that records all cryptocurrency transactions. Bitcoins are not backed by any country’s central bank or government, but they can be traded for goods or services with vendors who accept them as payment.
Although Bitcoin is still struggling to gain acceptance—its value has fluctuated dramatically in recent months—it has already inspired other forms of cryptocurrency. One that I’m watching with interest is Dentacoin. Founded in 2017 by the Netherlands-based Dentacoin Foundation, Dentacoin touts itself as being the first blockchain solution for the global dental industry. As the Dentacoin Foundation explains on its website, Dentacoin is a “utility token” which is already being accepted as a means of payment by dental practices, shops, laboratories in 18 countries and can be exchanged for other crypto and fiat currencies, including U.S. dollars and Euros. According to the Foundation, this “dental ecosystem” favors all industry stakeholders: patients, dentists, manufacturers, suppliers, labs and insurance companies. Dentists and patients are securely connected through blockchain-based software tools which enable them to exchange information and make and receive payments in Dentacoin. Patients are incentivized with Dentacoin rewards when they give reviews or access information about dental health. Dentists use Dentacoin to pay for lab services and supplies.
“Dentacoin could shift the paradigm from ‘drill and fill’ dentistry to a prevention-focused approach,” says Dr. Max Ganhewa, a dentist at Dental on Flinders, a practice in Melbourne, Australia.
Could the Dentacoin model be applied to vision care? Would it encourage a prevention-driven approach to ocular health and wellness, in which patients would be incentivized to have eye exams on a regular basis?
The dental industry has many parallels to the optical industry. Perhaps Dentacoin could spur the development of an Opticoin. What do you think?
• Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology