Blockchain in healthcare

Role this area should play in the mHealth space
Blockchain is a decentralized list of digital records linked together by cryptography. The ledger technology facilitates accessibility and secure transfer of patient medical records. Currently, blockchain is being implemented mainly as a mechanism to secure the exchange of Personal Health Records and Health Information. Patient digital identity and secured access to data is done through a combination of private and public identifiers secured through cryptography. Blockchain relies on established cryptographic techniques to allow each participant in a network to interact (e.g. store, exchange, and view information), without preexisting trust between the parties.

The technology has the potential to improve data interoperability, security, and privacy. Blockchain supports integration of health care information across a range of uses and stakeholders. Blockchain provides trustlessness, privacy and explainability to AI. It allows for the scalability of health solutions and enables the democratization of patient data. 

There is no central authority, transactions being stored and distributed across all network participants. Blockchain technology enables effective and reliable data access management, by that promoting the mHealth in the mainstream of the health systems.

Current challenges and limitations
  • High volume data that needs absolute privacy and instantaneous access within a single organization
  • Size of health care information stored on the blockchain
  • Large transaction sizes could adversely impact the performance of the blockchain
  • Integration process challenges: organizational changes, infrastructure investment, staff training and informative sessions for patients
  • Cost of integration process, the means of storage, the consensus mechanics that are to be used
  • Scalability due by growing number of transactions recorded in the blockchain (number of records or number of events per patient)
  • Verification process of transactions that are to be added to the chain (Bitcoin reward model difficult to apply in healthcare) coupled with the relative low processing power of mobile devices
  • Data protection laws

Key concerns: 

  • Network infrastructure security at all levels
  • Identity verification and authentication of all participants
  • Uniform patterns of authorization to access electronic health information

 

What benefit could this bring to adopters of this innovation?
This technology  is advisable to use if multiple parties are expected to generate secured transactions that change information in a shared repository and those transactions need to be trusted and validated. The strength of the technology consists in a transparent and secured transaction layer for the collaboration of all stakeholders in the ecosystem. Blockchain enables Interoperability. An organization delivering  a medical service could direct a standardized set of information present in each patient interaction to a nationwide blockchain transaction layer. Information stored on the blockchain could be universally available to a specific individual through the blockchain private key mechanisms, enabling seamless sharing of information between patients and health care provider

The healthcare industry can benefit from this technology in terms of data privacy, control, access and safety, as well as accountability and identity verification . The integration of blockchain in the health system could be beneficial due mostly to its open and distributed nature of the software. These advantages lead to more effective operations between different IT platforms in the health ecosystem and between these platforms and the patients.    With  data being distributed to several different locations, there is an increased reliability in data storage with a  lower risk that a severe database malfunction would compromise data of several different patients.

Main benefits of the integration of blockchain into existing healthcare systems would be increased interoperability between health service providers, increased access control by the user who owns the data and immutable history of accesses and changes to data.

Blockchain is also  an enabler of clinical research and of secondary use of data. A topmost layer of the blockchain could contain only standardized information which is not protected health information (PHI) or personally identifiable information (PII),allowing researchers to access a wide spectrum of data from hundreds of thousands of patients.

Examples

Blockchain – National level implementation

Blockchain – National level implementation

Approach or solution This is an example of adoption and implementation of blockchain technology at national level. Estonia is a forerunner in this field, having begun to harness the power of blockchain in healthcare in 2012. Currently, its entire healthcare billing, 95% of health data,... ...

Blockchain Platform for patient empowerment

Blockchain Platform for patient empowerment

Approach or solution BurstIQ aims to revolutionize health, by allowing patients to control their own data and feel confident about the chain of custody when it comes to their most private information. The company claims to have the most advanced block chain platform on the... ...

Blockchain—A new model for Health Information Exchanges

Blockchain—A new model for Health Information Exchanges

Approach or solution White paper on the use of Blockchain in healthcare. It was developed in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) ideation challenge.     Organisation or initiative Deloitte Report –... ...

m-Health Blockchain System: Security in mHealth

m-Health Blockchain System: Security in mHealth

Approach or solution Students at IADE make a conceptual proposal of a Security system for mHealth based on Blockchain technology that would allow patients to greatly improve the control and ownership capabilities of their health data. The paper is also a comprehensive overview of the... ...

What is on the horizon?
The use of blockchain technologies in conjunction with data stored in the cloud can have a profound impact on the way that m-Health applications store and use user’s data.

 .  . I. . Relevant for health and robotics field will be the the use of the characteristics of blockchain in conjunction with artificial intelligence. Cutting-edge research work aims to adapt the information recording capabilities of blockchain into the data collection processes of artificial systems. By using smart-contracts to store information, triggers can be made so that certain tasks are automated when a certain contract is executed.

In addition,  integration of blockchain technology into the internet of things shows promise for a secured interconnectivity and exchange between a variety of medical devices without complex brokered trust. It aims to allow automatic contracts to be carried out when receiving a network command and then recording event data into the blockchain . The technology shines at recording these specific transactional data events that are meant to be shared across a network of parties where transparency and collaboration are mission-critical.

 

 

 

 

Keywords
Blockchain, Smart contracts, Electronic Health Records