Fusion of Blockchain and E-Health- Part 2
Several months ago, i talked about how Blockchain could revolutionize the Health sector (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fusion-blockchain-ehealth-rono-derrick?trk=prof-post). This is one of the sectors that spurs economic growth. Because a healthy nation is a healthy economy.
It has taken me quite sometime to figure out how this technology could be plugged into the existing ecosystem without causing much chaos or re-engineering of systems. This compounded sleepless nights, consultation with experts, several iterations, system reviews and a lot of paper prototyping.
The idea of Bitcoin/Blockchain came to me a while back in campus when a friend of mine was doing a seminar paper on Bitcoin. I didn’t know what potential this technology had. But i would spend the better part of the day in the library trying to mine a few bitcoins. At that time my c0re 2 duo machine was capable of mining a few bitcoins. I would as well read articles to earn a few micro-bitcoins. What i didn’t know is that all my coins were stored in my local wallet. One day my computer crashed and i had not transferred my coins to an online wallet. That was the end of me and Bitcoin until recently when the same technology took me to task.
In the course of last year, Barclays organized a Supply chain challenge for a few countries in Africa. I put up a team of 3 and we pondered on the kind of problems that the technology can solve. After a few days of brainstorming, we finally settled on an anti-counterfeit solution. The system was supposed to provide a proverance system for all drugs that circulate the Kenyan Market. We managed to be among the top 5 finalist and attended the final pitch in Cape Town. This trip not only made me realise the potential the technology had but also gave me a picture of how much more we can do as a team to better the society.
I met a lot of people with interesting ideas and also those who liked and voted for my idea. I could see the excitement in their eyes, they were really thrilled and ready to see this in action. The competition ended and i was back with more energy and clear vision on how i could pivot my idea so that it becomes more viable.
Being in the E-Health sector for the better part of my career, i realised that blockchain could help in solving the interoperability issue we are facing currenty. Most institutions have deployed E-Health solutions but this poses a lot of challenges since this data never get to be moved from the hospital setup. A ‘silo’ effect is created and thus less data for practitioners to make decisions.
Having read and researched a lot about the blockchain, i ended up looking at several technologies which provide viable use cases. Ethereum, Storj, ErisDB etc provided me a clear picture on how the technology could be leveraged to create a data exchange point for E-Health systems. Thus i coined a new term for my platform Healthbitt.
Healthbitt is a platform that links up heterogenous E-Health systems using a RESTful interface. The platform sits at the edge of the systems so as to provide a linkage between several systems exchanging data securely and storing a permanent digital hash on the blockchain to allow verification. The stack is composed of 2 tiers namely:
- EMR Systems
The first layer consist of the electronic medical software. These software run on different platforms and databases. The second layer is composed of three components. The API, Blockchain and the distributed file system. The API act as a glue for all the components in the whole ecosystem, it receives the data and extract the necessary information which is sent to other components. The blockchain act as a public reference ledger, a database that stores a reference of all medical records and the organization that posted the record. The distributed file system stores the real electronic health data which can be obtained from a reference stored in the blockchain. So when a patient record is closed i.e. the session for the patient ends, the record is submitted to the API in a standard format.
The API extracts the information and generate a file which is hashed and stored in a distributed file system. The hash of the file acts as a reference of the health record. This hash is then published on the blockchain and broadcasted to everyone on the network. The patient then receives the reference of his visit in a health wallet. To retrieve the information, the patient supplies the reference to the doctor and then the doctor’s system can retrieve the data from the network by querying the API. Third party software can be able to extract data by using the references stored on the blockchain. They can extract the references and perform queries on the system to extract the data.
Sample Data Exchange File
Sample Json File