My colleague, Mark Smith, and I recently discussed how blockchain is revolutionizing individual’s control over their data and privacy. After a visit to the Doctor, the doctor said he’d email the details to Mark physician, which brought few questions to our mind: Why would a doctor need to email your data? Shouldn’t you be in control here?
Mark then brought up another topic. While clearing out the storeroom, he found file folder with yellowed papers which were 60-70 years old. The file included medical records of his great-grandfather. He could envision him carrying the folder personally to each visit. As of now, we have given in to the convenience of allowing doctors to keep our records and surrender ownership of our data.
The technology that formed the structure for digital currencies (like bitcoin) could be the technology to provide unparalleled security and access to medical records.
The healthcare industry is sensitive to privacy concerns yet vulnerable to data breaches. Statistics of 2016 shows, there were 324 reported breaches of health information from 500 to over 3.6 million affected individuals. Various startup companies are striving to apply blockchain technology to store medical record.
Imagine, when a doctor sees a patient or writes a new prescription, the patient agrees to have a reference added to the blockchain—a decentralized digital ledger like the one underlying digital currencies. The blockchain would record vital medical data in a virtually incorruptible cryptographic database, supported by a chain of computers, access to the members of the network. Every pointer a doctor creates on the blockchain will become a part of the patient’s record, no matter which electronic system the doctor uses.
Presently, the storage of health records are not efficient; many blockades prevent the sharing of data, and a single healthcare provider cannot store patients health data – instead the patient’s health history is spread and fragmented across multiple providers systems.
With blockchain development, each data block in the chain can be encrypted using public key cryptography which can be unlocked with a private key or password, which could be held by a patient.
If we utilize blockchain technology to store health data, the patient could grant access to their data and provide them with a key. Without access to the key, the data stored in blockchain would be inaccessible. Even if someone tries to hack into a single block of data, its near to impossible as the hacker needs to simultaneously cut all the other in the chain in chronological order.
With a digital currency such as Bitcoin, blockchain is used for transactions – the buying and selling of the coin. With health records, the transactions would be among physicians, blood test results, prescriptions, or surgical procedures. Each time data is added, it would be accessed by a trusted entity who has the access key. Once verified, it is added as a block in the chain in chronological order, with the blockchain comprising a patient’s entire medical history.
The use of blockchain in the healthcare industry is highly beneficial for providers and patients, for keeping medical records and bringing together disintegrated medical records.
With the cutting-edge blockchain technology, the potential uses of the technology are increasing. Medical records and Healthcare Blockchain could be one of the best use cases for blockchain. Healthcare providers can benefit from increased accessibility and safety, which will result in better healthcare outcomes.