Medicalchain — A blockchain for electronic health records

Introduction

The cryptocurrency market has seen many different initial coin offerings launched over the last year. Many of these new market players have presented the industry with disruptive applications of blockchain technology that fulfil a specific purpose and today I will share a project in area of Medical health records.

Medicalchain plans to introduce blockchain technology to the electronic health records (EHR) industry. The blockchain securely stores health records and maintains a single version of the truth. Different medical organizations and individuals — like doctors, hospitals, labs, and insurers — can request permission to access a patient’s record from the blockchain. Patients have more control over who sees their data, while healthcare providers can provide better patient care based on more accurate data.

Background

The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a digital version of a patients medical history maintained by a healthcare provider over the course of their visits. The record includes patient information on demographics, diagnosis, vital signs, past medical history, progress over time, lab tests and more. Some major advantages offered by an EHR system include accurate and up-to-date patient information, reduced healthcare cost in long term, quick access to patient related data, reduced medical errors, increased patient participation and improved efficiency of healthcare providers.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) Market

The global market for electronic health record (EHR) features a largely fragmented vendor landscape, with the presence of a large number of small and large players and the top five companies cumulatively accounting for a nearly 44% of the overall market in 2016. Hospitals remain leading users of Electronic Health Records and the most prominent buyers as 65% of the hospitals across the globe have installed some form of EHR in 2015 compared to 54% in 2014. The segment is expected to remain the top end-use sector of the global EHR market.

Europe and Asia Pacific are also among the leading contributors of revenue to the global market and are expected to remain high-growth regions over the forecast period as well. These countries are expected to offer immense potential for EHR market as the continuously growing economy of these nations will encourage healthcare providers to adopt technically advanced EHR systems.

Globally Government funding encouraging the meaningful use of certified EHR technology across healthcare facilities, increasing pressure for healthcare cost containment and rising demand for improved quality of healthcare services are among the major factors driving the growth of EHR market in the North American market. Factors such as rapid technological advancement with data access through smartphones, need for improved efficiency and quality of service delivery to sustain in the intensively competitive healthcare industry, and increasing disposable income are also expected to fuel the growth of the market.

Problem

The biggest challenge that is being faced by health care systems throughout the world is how to share medical data with known and unknown stakeholders for various purposes while ensuring data integrity and protection patient privacy. Although data standards are better than ever, each electronic health record (EHR) stores data using different workflows, so it is not obvious who recorded what, and when and hence Creating a trusted environment for decision-making is a challenge for medical fraternity. The growing focus on care coordination and EHR access across the care continuum has raised questions about how to ensure that multiple providers can view, edit, and share patient data while still maintaining an authoritative and up-to-date record of diagnoses, medications, and services rendered.

The EHR problem is not merely a problem of data sharing logistics. Every solution that deserves serious consideration in a national healthcare system needs to put patient privacy and informational freedom of choice first in its list of priorities. In US for almost a decade, hospitals have been waiting for EHRs to usher in a shiny new era of standardization and high-quality health care. But while federal laws and incentive programs have made health care data more accessible, the vast majority of hospital systems still can’t easily (or safely) share their data. Solutions should be sought in which patients themselves control whom to divulge their identity, where to remain pseudonymous, and which pieces of data to share.

Opportunities

The inherently sensitive nature of health data, along with the perennial challenges of interoperability, patient record matching, and health information exchange, have created opportunities for a blockchain approach. The information presented by EHR on the distributed ledger of a permissioned Blockchain would be perfectly reconciled community-wide, with the assured integrity from the point of data generation to the point of use, without manual human intervention. The Blockchain solution for healthcare industry drastically reduces the time required to access patient’s information, enhances system interoperability and improve data quality.

The use of blockchain also enables a reduction in overhead costs, particularly for development and maintenance of legacy health record systems. Successful deployment of blockchain for health records allows data transition between related parties in an efficient, consensus-based, seamless manner.

Once a blockchain is deployed to manage EHRs, it becomes the unified and common backbone for digital health. Expanding on the consequences of this development on the future of specialized backend systems, the implication of using this backbone is that each hospital or care provider no longer needs a specific version of databases or software to access patient data. The other advantage is that the development cycle for health data software is simplified significantly

Instead of relying on a designated intermediary for information exchange, such as a state-designated HIE or a private network established between local hospitals, the decentralized nature of the blockchain would allow any approved participants to join an exchange community, without the need to build data exchange pipes between certain organizations.

As an example of the growing interest of Governments and organizations around the world for EHRs in Blockchain, in January 2017, the Food and Drug Administration announced a research partnership with IBM Watson to find ways to safely share data from EHRs, clinical trials, genetic sequencing, and even mobile wearables using the blockchain approach. Blockchain trusted verification of electronic health can open new avenues of using intelligent agents for anonymous data reporting to track population statistics and trends.

Blockchain & Electronic Health Record (EHR)

Blockchain helps in providing a universal set of tools for cryptographic assurance of data integrity, standardized auditing, and formalized contracts for data access. The end result would be perfectly reconciled community-wide information about you, with guaranteed integrity from the point of data generation to the point of use, without manual human intervention. Blockchain could enable a comprehensive, interoperable and secure EHR data exchange in which health consumers are the ultimate owners of their EHRs. These transactions and records are created by different nodes on the network, such as a provider or a consumer uploading health data.

Blockchain ensures information on the chain is verified by requiring users to provide a signature and time-stamp with a private key to access the data. Therefore, the logic built into blockchain allows consumers to have the best of both worlds, providing access to doctors when they need it, while simultaneously protecting data from unauthorized users. The use of multiple digital signatures via PKI and cryptographic hashes ensures health metadata and EHR hashes travel the network securely and are accessible only to those parties with the correct public keys to access them. The blockchains use of digital signatures to create a unique patient identifier ensures all records on the chain bearing that identifier are linked to create a comprehensive EHR for that patient across his/her providers and payers. The health metadata blockchain avoids the scalability challenges that placing data-intensive EHR records in their vast numbers directly on the blockchain may impose on the technology.

The health metadata blockchain and EHR systems together comprise a holistic 
 solution that enables secure exchange of EHR data and overcomes incompatibilities among systems at the provider level. With the EHR metadata blockchain, every provider, patient, payer, health system, record, medical device, wearable, etc can be a part of the network. This fact, along with the immutable quality of the blockchain public ledger, ensures no one can alter the providers EHR record after the fact. The unique digital signatures carried by all stakeholders, data and transactions in a blockchain will streamline the process of creating aggregated and accurate research data sets by preventing information fragmentation and enabling correct merging of records. Blockchain technology can track and timestamp each access of and addition to an EHR, providing an immutable audit trail while ensuring the most recent version of the record is always used.

Medicalchain Platform

Medicalchain is a blockchain for electronic health records. Medicalchain will enable different healthcare agents such as doctors, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacists and insurers to request permission to access and interact with medical records. Each interaction is auditable, transparent, and secure, and will be recorded as a transaction on Medicalchain’s distributed ledger.

It is built on the permission based Hyperledger Fabric architecture which allows varying access levels; patients control who can view their records, how much they see and for what length of time. The blockchain is currently in development. Medicalchain is working with Coinsilium, NHS, Wings, and Hyperledger to bring the platform to life.

Medicalchain aims to offer the following core benefits to patients and healthcare providers:

  • Data can only be accessed by the patient’s private key; even if the database is hacked, the patient’s data will be unreadable (it’s all encrypted)
  • Patients have full control over accessing their healthcare data; patients will contrl who sees their data and what they see
  • Instantaneous transfer of medical data, where every member of the distributed network of the health care blockchain would have the same data for the patient; there’s a reduced risk of errors, and better patient care

Features

Medicalchain offers all of the following features:

  • Enhanced Privacy And Access Control where the users can setup access permissions and give certain providers permission to write data to their blockchain.
  • Realtime & Secure Doctor To Patient Communication where Patients can share their records, get second opinions, and communicate online with medical professionals through a secure channel.
  • Robust Licensing of Health Records by Patients where patients can choose to license their electronic health records to different parties — say, pharmaceutical companies — for research.
  • Unified App Development Platform on top of Medicalchain where third party developers to build decentralized apps on the Medicalchain platform. Possible health apps could include medication assessments, wearable data interactivity, fat measurement apps, diet and nutritional advice, and more. These apps could be catered to specific user information.

Process Flow

The basic process used in a Medicalchain transaction and data entry is given below.

  • Data is generated where even the patient’s wearable device could generate data, a doctor could write a note to the blockchain, or a pharmacist could dispense medicine.
  • The data is encrypted and given an identity that is stored on the patient’s blockchain; this data is sent to cloud storage.
  • When Data is requested, the ID on the blockchain is used to retrieve the encrypted data.
  • Finally the data is decrypted, then displayed on the relevant device or application.

MedTokens

The Medicalchain ecosystem revolves around MedTokens. Medicalchain tokens, or MedTokens, can be used to pay for hosting and storage of the record on the private blockchain. Doctors and other healthcare professionals will also receive tokens as a reward for remotely reviewing medical information and providing medical advice. Finally, pharmaceutical companies can reward patients in exchange for accessing certain health information. Patients will grant access to their health record to apps where they can be used in exchange for MedTokens.

Tokensale

The Medicalchain pre-sale began on September 15, 2017. The ICO tokensale begins on February 1.

To learn more about Medicalchain, or to participate in the tokensale, please visit Medicalchain — Blockchain for electronic health records. Also please visit their Telegram Channel to directly talk to Medicalchain team and know more about the good work they are doing.

Team

Medicalchain is led by Dr. Abdullah Albeyatti, Mo Tayeb, Jay Povey, and Robert Miller Jr. It is based in London, UK. It was founded by Dr Albeyatti and Mo Tayeb who quickly expanded the team and added several high caliber advisers. In total, their team has decades of experience in healthcare, IT, and startups as well as a deep passion for blockchain technology and the way it can improve people’s lives.

Final Thoughts

Medicalchain is building the future of healthcare on Blockchain where there are also other Blockchain companies vying to get a pie of the Medical industry. Medicalchain has chosen to do things in a different, patient focused way. There have been similar projects but Medicalchain’s unique vision stands out from their competitors and they already have software running in hospitals in the UK. They have edge being team of professionals who want to expand their work over blockchain to reach at more broader level with their services. Crypto is good place right now for those who are seeking capital for startups or expansion in already running business.

Reference

- Website

- Slack

- Telegram

- Twitter

Disclaimer: This is not investment or trading advice, always do your own independent research.

Disclosure: The founders of the project have been generous by giving ETH contribution to the blog to promote the ICO.

If you like the Blog then please help support the publication via https://www.patreon.com/cryptbytestech. Also you can send some eth contributions to 0x670A8721C343Ce16D619630283Ea70F3235e3247