One of the most exciting things about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is that it is applicable to many different professions and industries. Where there are payments to process or data to secure, blockchain technology can be extremely useful.
Another exciting aspect is how it can empower the underbanked and unbanked populations of the world. Put simply, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are for everyone.
These aspects are most apparent when they are evidenced by real-world people, businesses, and use cases. I recently heard about a Chicagoland orthopedic practice beginning to accept Bitcoin as a payment method and reached out to them. The practice was started and operated by Dr. Chadwick Prodromos, and he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about integrating Bitcoin into his practice.
Doctor Prodromos, how long have you practiced medicine and how long has your practice been open?
I have been in the practice of orthopedic surgery for 32 years, and heavily involved in stem cell and regenerative medicine for 7 years.
When was the first time you heard about Bitcoin, and what convinced you to add it as a payment method for your patients?
I heard about it several years ago and read Paul Vigna and Michael Casey’s The Age of Cryptocurrency. I believed it would be particularly useful for international patients. The book used Argentinians as a specific group, for example. And I liked the idea of disintermediated payment in general and wanted to do my part to foster it.
Actually, intermediaries in medicine – insurance companies, hospital systems, et cetera – are responsible for most of the excess cost in medicine. Medicine – healthcare – used to be much less costly and much more about the doctor and the patient without other administrative intrusions. Allowing cryptocurrency payments is a small step toward trying to restore that paradigm. And in general, I believe in the ideals of the blockchain community and wanted to be a functioning part of it.
What was the greatest challenge in accepting bitcoin as a payment method? Greatest benefit?
I am fortunate that my daughter Lexy works in the blockchain industry for Bloq and the Chicago Blockchain Center. She set up our system for me. However, it is relatively simple for anyone to set up. As far as benefit, this would accrue to any patient who wished to use this form of payment. As we treat more and more patients from afar, including overseas, with stem cell treatments, I think the benefit to them will be more apparent.
How many patients have paid in Bitcoin thus far? How do they like it? Do you actively let your patients know it is an option?
We had our first patient formally pay with Bitcoin last week. We have it as a payment option on our website. I intend, however, to actively promote it as a payment option for my practice going forward.
How do your staff and colleagues feel about Bitcoin and accepting Bitcoin?
Most had heard of it, but only vaguely. All were fine with using it.
What are your opinions about blockchain technology as a method to secure health records and identifying information? Is your practice exploring that side of blockchain technology as well?
Actually, medical records are already heavily protected with digital, encrypted, but non-blockchain technology. So there is no real need there from that perspective. However, there is interest in using blockchain technology to help keep provider directories up to date – a problem that is hugely expensive to the health care system. The current lack of transparency involved in that process would be greatly alleviated by having a blockchain [based] distributed database instead of the current centralized ones.
What predictions do you have about other medical professionals accepting cryptocurrencies?
I think it will grow slowly over time. There is still hesitation as to the use of cryptocurrency in a world where generally third party intermediaries are trusted in the United States. Some aspects of accepting cryptocurrency as well can be quite risky – for example, if a loss of private keys occurs or if there is a threat of an exchange hacking – so I can see the reluctance other service providers might have in using it. However, I am confident that as the technology becomes more sophisticated and user-friendly, user adoption will continue to grow.
Outside of Bitcoin, what is your favorite cryptocurrency?
Litecoin seems to have potential; I like the fact that the transactions process very quickly and it seems scalable. Also, I just read that Telegram, in a departure from their core business, will be introducing a new token that they think will be able to viably compete with Visa and Mastercard. Easier said than done, but I will be watching for more information going forward.
Should our readers wish to learn more about your practice, where should they look?
The best source of information is our website. The URL is ismoc.net. I am a knee and shoulder surgeon, fellowship trained at Harvard/MGH in sports medicine, and editor of the textbook for orthopedic surgeons on the ACL. I am also heavily involved in stem cell and PRP (platelet rich plasma) regenerative medicine injections. We have a prospective study of more than 2,600 such injections as an alternative to joint replacement and other surgery that is one of the largest by an orthopedic surgeon in the United States with an overall success rate of about 80%. I try to use surgery only as a last resort, and the advances in regenerative medicine have made this increasingly possible. Our phone number is 847-699-6810 for any questions. We are located in the Chicago suburbs but evaluate patients remotely from all over the country, and beyond, at no charge.
Dr. Prodromos and his practice are a great example of how cryptocurrencies can be used for daily necessities such as healthcare. I want to take a moment to thank Dr. Prodromos again for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me and to share his cryptocurrency story with our readers.