Increasing Healthcare Security with Blockchain Technology

In this post we describe what are the security problems with personal medical information and how blockchain can solve these issues. We consider blockchain as a solution for security problems even initially it focused on financial services, the technology holds much promise for addressing challenges in health-care such as interoperability and Medicare fraud. Moreover, there are already practical examples in Estonia — On National level, Estonian medical data located in hospital systems are secured by the blockchain and we are going to use this experience to expand the usage of this technology to the personal health records also. We believe that decentralization of different personal medical data sources leads to new security challenges. In a nutshell a blockchain is a distributed database, shared and maintained by multiple parties. Records can only be added to the database, never removed, with each new record cryptographically linked to all previous records in time.

There are different researches providing the architecture for healthcare systems based on the blockchain technology that propose blockchain for the medical data storage. Other solutions offer to store references to medical data in the blockchain. All these researches are based on the electronic health records and therefore on the limited number of data sources. In case of personal health records this approach is not working as data amount is not limited and is growing all the time. Also there references to such data sources can become outdated in any time as they are created by private companies or even person itself.

In our project we consider blockchain as a mechanism for enabling transparency for the person who is aware of his/her medical data usage in real time. Every access to health-care records, every change in health-care records and the supply chain for digital data is verifiable using the blockchain guaranteeing system, process and operational integrity. More of that, it is not possible to change medical data without person’s permission due to complex blockchain based mechanisms.

Protecting you medical information by giving the owner full access to it enables new business model where role of middleman in the process of medical data selling is not needed any more. In our next post we will describe more our vision of smart contracts that can be used for autonomous processes in healthcare. To be continued…