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Blockchain

Blockchain For Medical Records: Blockchain Is Not Only Bitcoin

Despite technological progress, there are many unsolved problems in the healthcare industry: outdated Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems, the low privacy of medical records, interoperability issue, etc. More and more reports state that blockchain for EHR is here to fix these drawbacks and bring healthcare to a new level.

The thing is, the current EHR systems are still backed by good old fax machines and snail mail for transferring health data in case the direct communication between the systems is not possible. Naturally, this causes delays, fatal medical errors, costly additional analyses, etc. Patients are getting more and more frustrated as they do not have control over their medical records because of the interoperability issue. The more different hospitals and doctors the patients visit, the harder it is to collect and maintain all their data.

In this article, we want to speak about the blockchain technology in the health records and how blockchain development can solve the existing medical data problems.

Blockchain solves the problems in the medical field

People often think that blockchain stands for Bitcoin only, forgetting about the technology and advantages it may bring to various industries. It is believed that blockchain health records are very promising. For example, there is always a need for trusted healthcare data aggregation for medical research purposes where patients are sure that their data is confidential and researchers — that the information is authentic. Next, more and more companies and even governments are looking towards blockchain based medical records.

Blockchain technology for medical records can significantly fix the main drawbacks of the current EHR systems by creating shared networks of healthcare data. Contrary to the ordinary systems, blockchain based EHRs have the following advantages:

  • Creating a unified and easily-accessible decentralized ledger for complete healthcare records;
  • Allowing patients to access and control their EMR easily;
  • Eliminating intermediaries between the patient and their medical records;
  • Preserving data integrity, immutability, and interoperability;
  • Securing sensitive medical data.

All these benefits are mostly possible precisely thanks to the blockchain characteristics in health records and can significantly improve the patient care.

Blockchain Based EHRs Advantages

  • Improved Security
  • Due to public blockchain features, it can be used to manage access to patient data maintained in EHR systems. Blockchain can provide hash – a unique identifier and timestamp to a certain health record. As an alternative to keeping enormous EHRs in a vast centralized database, the technology offers a distributed solution with secure data stored in a shared ledger.

  • Solving Interoperability Problem
  • As an open-source software, blockchain is a reliable and solid solution to drive innovations in the fast-changing technology world. By using open APIs blockchain can enable fast and simple data integrations between diverse systems interacting in a secure and standardized way. This is a great opportunity to improve revenue cycle management and medical supply management as well as eliminating frauds.

  • Enhancing Medical Researches
  • With blockchain, medical researches can be enhanced by interactive queries, machine learning, text mining, and analytics. All the data in a decentralized system will be encrypted with a digital signature, and patients will have an opportunity of sharing access to these records for reward or for free. This accurate data can enhance studying the diseases, optimize biometrical discovery and reveal new details about people’s health.

Blockchain For Healthcare Data Management

Sharing healthcare data between several healthcare providers is currently very inefficient and time-consuming, and interoperability is now one of the most painful issues in the medical field. Blockchain technology can be used to improve EMR systems on an institutional basis where the network is formed by the trusted peers — authorized healthcare institutions or acclaimed doctors. In this case, the peers run a distributed ledger and support a certain consensus protocol.

Now, let’s imagine another case of blockchain for EHR systems. Let’s imagine that a patient is staying at the hospital for surgery and rehabilitation. A specific ledger can be created to maintain and update the data within the network of this hospital only. Therefore, nurses, doctors of this hospital, as well as family members of the patient can access this private blockchain to obtain health records in a fast and efficient way.

Both systems bring healthcare data management to another level, eliminating situations when patients have to keep the data and update it in an outdated way or repeat the tests because of the data loss.

Privacy and Trust for Medical Records

blockchain for healthcare

The low privacy of medical records is a huge problem in the healthcare industry. After all, such data is the most sensitive for any person, and it can cost a fortune on the black market. No wonder that hackers choose hospitals as their targets.

Using blockchain for EMR is a big step towards confidentiality and transparency. The electronic medical records can be easily verified by the network while preserving the data privacy. Each hash has user permissions for doctors and patients, which prevents unauthorized access.

For example, a patient has health records after surgery to be included in the shared network. Thereby, the system creates a new block and distributes it to all peers. This block is inserted into the chain once the majority approves it. Thus, the information is encrypted, so the peers have no access to the data and no idea about the patient. It is the patient who has the secret key and sets up view permissions to the data.

At the same time, there is a question of trust when it comes to electronic medical records. How can we be sure that the data for the particular patient is correct and not violated? In this case, each new user should pass the KYC procedure by registration in the decentralized EHR network. Thereby, the system doesn’t have access to the patient’s data (unless revealed by the patient to individual users), and yet can be sure that the data is authentic.

How blockchain can improve the electronic health records system

At Inn4science, we believe that blockchain development is here to drastically change the healthcare industry through the creation of EMR shared networks and user-friendly interfaces for all the parties involved. You may think that it sounds like science fiction, and yet we already have successful world examples in this direction.

Some countries like Australia and Estonia are already using blockchain for EHR and transactions between federal insurance programs, patients, and healthcare providers. Even though it is only at the pilot stage, the attention to the blockchain technology from the governments is a serious indicator.

There are also a couple of EHR blockchain projects attempting to disrupt the healthcare industry. And even though most of them are quite similar concerning the main idea — the decentralized network of EMR — each of them has its competitive advantages and features.

For example, Medibloc provides a monetary gain to its users, meaning that patients not only can benefit from cost- and time-saving but also get profit by selling their healthcare data to researchers. In its turn, MedicalChain is claiming to provide telemedicine feature with access to longitudinal health records and privacy controls for the patients. That means that during online consultation with a doctor through the webcam, patients will be able to choose the viewing rights to the doctor. MedRec is primarily aiming to solve the problem of healthcare data interoperability by creating a system supporting public standards for healthcare data exchange. It also provides researchers with the ability to mine anonymized medical data.

Conclusion

When it comes to the implementation of the blockchain technology in the EMR field, there are, naturally, specific challenges such as healthcare laws, development cost, adoption issue, etc. There is also a scalability question when it comes to transferring EHR to the distributed ledger system.

Despite this, blockchain for medical records is demonstrating a great potential in disrupting the healthcare field. The revenue for blockchain in healthcare is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2024. And even though there are many similar blockchain healthcare projects in progress, there is a huge niche for the new ones to appear.

The team of experienced developers at Inn4science are here to help you with blockchain development of your healthcare data ledgers and medical applications. A significant portfolio of successful projects backs our expertise in blockchain development. We are offering full-cycle development as well as blockchain consulting services so you can choose from several cooperation models.

Contact us today and let us implement blockchain to your project!

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

LET'S DISCUSS! BOOK A CONSULTATION WITH OUR SPECIALIST


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