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Data save lives

Data sharing is one of the major challenges worldwide in the health sector.

Patients treated in hospital institutions or who need to consult with new doctors are not always in a position to provide all the relevant information. Often these data are extremely important for the correct evaluation of the clinical picture and the elaboration of an adequate prognosis.

Health exams printed on paper and surgical records can be lost or forgotten. People in emergency situations may not be able to provide information on their health history, previous surgeries, intolerance or allergy to certain medicinal products. This type of asymmetry of information can seriously compromise the effectiveness of a treatment and often leads to medical error, contributing to the deaths of thousands of people.

It is not a problem only for the large number of health institutions that still use paperwork to fill out and record patient data. In Boston alone, there are 26 medical record systems, each with its own language to represent and share data.

Hospitals and specialized clinics are often very jealous about the information of their patients. Unfortunately, this happens because of obsolete market reservation practices, when organizations do everything to not lose their clientele to competitors.

Private applications in blockchain can solve many of these problems, preventing the deaths of thousands of people. In private networks, involving several institutions, none of them would hold patient data, which are identified by a hash that would constitute their unique identity on the network, whose privacy can only be accessed with their permission. This authorization can be given either by a signature using their private key, or by a backup device that can be retrievable if the patient is not in sound consciousness.

Private networks may also be encouraged to share information in an authorized trading market. As a transparent medium, blockchain allows anyone to analyze the network and verify the honesty of transactions. Network security makes tampering impossible, because any change in value, as little as it may be, completely changes the hash of information and becomes incompatible with the block chain.

In this way, patients can easily send their own data to other institutions and health professionals without fear of falsifications or information blocks. Medical data entered into the network will be completely traceable . Furthermore, it is possible to encourage patients to adopt certain preventive treatments or make their medical data available to research institutions.

Estonia is the first country in the world to operate with a national health registration system using blockchain. 95% of medical data have been uploaded since its implementation in 2005. In the private market, projects such as the one developed by the eHealth Foundation in partnership with Guardtime in 2016 have introduced a large-scale network for authentication of information without the need for a centralized authority.

What do you prefer? Have your data in a secure network to ensure good care in the hospital or leave your information under the custody of companies?



4CADIA Foundation articles about Blockchain technology

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