Healthcare is one of the industries that generate terabytes of data each day. Hospitals and healthcare services providers are investing thousands of dollars every year to manage patient information and other data.
“Market has existing solutions revolving around maintenance of electronic medical records of patients. However, maintaining records along with cost of managing and maintaining the system has put most of the service providers off from implementing it.”
However, Blockchain has the potential to transform health care. It can place the patient at the center of the health care ecosystem thereby increase the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data.
Re-quoting my last article – “blockchain is a decentralized and distributed digital ledger that records transactions across many computers in such a way that the registered transactions cannot be altered retroactively.”
Lets extrapolate it further
For instance, conceptually, a patient’s data can be stored on a blockchain based network creating a multisig address for each patient’s records. The patient can be provided with a private key and a multisig address for his data. In addition, each healthcare provider using this record keeping system can be assigned a universal signature.
Using the same multisig principle used by bitcoin wallets: a patient can choose to grant access to any healthcare provider of his choice(by using his signature along with that of the hospital). This way, the patients will have full access to their own data. It will also save hospitals from the huge costs associated with setting up and maintaining patients’ electronic records.
Is someone doing this already?
Australian startup Brontech has launched Cyph MD, a healthcare platform based on Ethereum’s blockchain. They understood the need for accessing data across platforms, and how it influences diagnostic accuracy, as well as reduces clinical errors. Using Ethereum’s smart contracts, Cyph MD plans to create a system of one-off identity checks and online ‘identity tokens’ to allow secure communication across the entire healthcare network.
“It is still common to see hospital hallways packed with patients filling out forms.” – Emma Poposka – Brontech CEO
“Medical staff is mostly busy in trying to figure out a patient’s accurate medical history. Doctors use insecure channels like a telephone to acquire data and a patient’s consent is still taken for granted.”, Emma continues.
Similarly, Blockpharma, a French startup, is using the blockchain to help fight drug counterfeiting. Through blockchain technology, they’re able to improve drug trace-ability. They can increase ease of interaction between parties in the supply chain, and even alert labs if fake drugs are discovered.
“Being able to easily retrieve data and prove documents aren’t fraudulent, or altered, means a company could know exactly what factory a drug came from, and trust that information.” – quoted a trusted resource.
So what is the point?
If you look closely, you will see a pattern evolving here.
“Blockchain does not only looks like a good idea, it’s seeming more necessary as security vulnerabilities are continued to be exploited.”
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued a shared nationwide interoperability road-map. It defines critical policy and technical components needed for nationwide interoperability. These components include:
- Ubiquitous, secure network infrastructure
- Verifiable identity and authentication of all participants
- Consistent representation of authorization to access electronic health information, and several other requirements.
However, current technologies do not fully address these requirements, because they face limitations related to security, privacy, and full ecosystem interoperability.