Modern healthcare data systems are contained in disparate and disconnected information silos in doctors offices, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories, and mobile devices. The information is so segregated that it often prevents healthcare providers from providing fast and efficient care to patients. Blockchain technology can be a solution to keeping all patient data in a single, secure location.
As discussed in a previous post, blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger of transactions that records data in a way that prevents hacking and altering of the data. It does this by duplicating transactions and dispersing them to “nodes” across the network. One global blockchain could be the foundation of a universal global electronic health record that provides all stakeholders with access to patient information in a single private digital location.
Personalized Health Data and Improved Transparency of Pharmaceuticals
Not only would blockchain secure health records, it would also give patients full control over their data. Through cryptographic keys used for authentication and encryption, blockchain would give patients the ability to permit health care providers, pharmacists, insurance providers, and other stakeholders to access their data. For example, blockchain could allow patients to give pharmaceutical researchers access to their data in order to conduct studies, for which they could possibly get paid. This control also makes transitioning to a new health care provider or insurance provider much easier, because patients wouldn’t need to rely on their form provider to pass along their records.
EHRData, based in Texas, is creating the first global electronic health record in the world. With this system, individuals can securely control their personal medical information while giving health care professionals and researchers improved real-time access to their information.
IBM’s Digital Health Pass: Tracking Vaccines and Patient Data
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the need for a blockchain-backed global electronic health record into focus. Such a system would allow real-time tracking of vaccine administration, which could also be used as evidence that a person has been vaccinated.
IBM is collaborating with COVID-19 test manufacturers, private employers, and governments on the creation of its Digital Health Pass. The project’s goal is to create a digital health system similar to PayPal, a popular online payments system. The pass uses blockchain to create a secure and unchangeable archive of a patient’s health. Possible use cases include negative COVID-19 tests and proof of vaccination. Because the patient has consented to the test or vaccine, the data is automatically included in their record. Patients would own the credentials, and their data would be secured. They can then choose to grant access to any entity that requests it.
“This could be an employer, an airline, any organisation that wants to see proof that you have been vaccinated,” Anthony Day, the lead on Digital Health Pass, tells Personnel Today. “We believe digital proof carries the least risk of fraud. The verifier looks up that this is all valid, and this is all orchestrated by the blockchain technology, rather than revealing the personal information itself.”
While blockchain technologies like Digital Health Pass are still in their infancy, they reveal ways of how blockchain can be used to create better, more centralized healthcare.
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Faragher, Jo. (15 March 2021). Could a blockchain health record help HR handle the pandemic? Personnel Today.
Nguyen, Jimmy. (10 March 2021). Blockchains are the building blocks of better healthcare. MedCity News.
Public and private keys. Blockchain.com Support. https://support.blockchain.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000951966-Public-and-private-keys