Medical Data Security is a common concern in the Healthcare industry. If we talk about data-breach, in 2018 only, there have been major medical data leaks in Australia, USA, Norway, and other countries. The United States is the top country by the number of data breach incidents with 392 — more than half of the global total. Canada ranked second with 21, the United Kingdom experienced 20 and Australia with 17 breaches in the quarter. No other country had more than seven incidents.
Not only leaks, communication and transfer of patient medical data often become difficult between vendors and healthcare systems. As a result, It negatively impacts the quality of patient care and treatment. Moreover, there are large amounts of health data collected through consumer technologies, such as mobile health apps, wearables, and fitness trackers, that has not yet been able to be effectively incorporated into patient care on a broad scale.
In fact, concerns arise when multiple vendors hold different versions of the same patient record that are not validated, resulting in various errors, inconsistency, and incompleteness.
In order to reduce these medical data security and management issues, Blockchain technology can offer advanced solutions. By reshaping the entire architecture of healthcare data at the industry level (or even a global level), we open new doors to innovation.
As MIT researchers Andrew Lippman and Ariel Ekblaw, and John D. Halamka, MD, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, write at the Harvard Business Review, a blockchain “generalizes past medical records” so that no custom programming is necessary for it to work with individual EHR vendors.
That means implementation could scale very quickly.
There are some questions that will need to be answered, first, such as how to grant private-key access to a trusted friend or family member (a blockchain analog to power of attorney) in the event of an emergency in which the patient is incapacitated, explains University of Miami professor Robert Plant.
But momentum is on our side. In fact, other countries are already experimenting with blockchain-based health records at the governmental level. This includes Estonia, which in early 2017 hired a local blockchain company to secure the health records of nearly half its citizens, The Medical Futurist writes.
While America has a lot of work to do before we can get half of our citizens’ data secured on blockchains, it must be on our roadmap. PokitDok is doing our part through DokChain, our distributed network of transaction processors that operate on financial and clinical data across the healthcare industry.
Our goal is to help bring about a new healthcare economy in which data and services are quantifiable and exchangeable, and where the security and privacy of sensitive information are reinforced by strong guarantees and transaction histories that can be audited longitudinally.
Apart from that, these medical data security issues can be reduced using Universal Health Coins. This is an attempt to use blockchain healthcare technology to eliminate third-party entities that manage payment for services between the patient and provider to reduce healthcare costs associated with unnecessary administrative burden and inflation that results from lack of a free healthcare market. This system also reduces the chances of medical data security breaches.
UHC describes itself as an “anonymous, token-based shared health cost network” rather than health insurance. Each member of the UHC network pays a voluntary monthly fee and in exchange receives a digital Universal Health Coin, validated through blockchain healthcare technology, to use as currency for direct payment of services when they receive treatment at a provider’s location.
IBM Watson Health has partnered with US Food and Drug Administration to explore the use of health data transfers from wearables and other IoT devices using blockchain. One of the major aims of this project is to facilitate the secure transfer of health data and make it easily available to patients, researchers and healthcare providers. The transparency and accountability inherent to blockchain will reduce medical data security issues and the associated risks.
The shared blockchain ledger is public, but because the data is replicated across all the blocks in the network, it’s more secure than traditional information storage—a model that keeps all the data in a single location (centralized).
Blockchain delivers access control via a shared public chain and a private chain; so for instance, only the patient would have access to their medical data using the private chain piece. If malicious parties wanted to gain access, the hackers would need to simultaneously breach every participant in the network, not just one.
Related Blog: Blockchain for healthcare and life sciences
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