Healthcare Blockchain – Healthcare units have started to use digital methods for maintaining electronic health records. From patient’s personal information to different diagnostic reports, and doctor’s prescriptions, healthcare organizations, currently use centralized servers for saving various types of data. From identity thefts to financial data thefts, data mining, spamming, and profiling, the patient’s data can be misused for many reasons. It usually happens because patients don’t have control over the data. According to 2017 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach Study, the cost of data breaches for healthcare organizations is estimated to be $380 per record.
Health Information Exchange is a time-consuming and complicated process that keeps obstructing healthcare industry.
According to 2016 Breach Barometer Report, 450 breach incidents occurred but information was only available for 380 breach incidents and, the breaches resulted in 27,314,647 affected patient records. Can blockchain solve the data security issues in healthcare? Is it possible to securely save data on the blockchain?
Instead of deploying different data management solutions, a decentralized medical record management system on Blockchain can transform the healthcare data exchange.
According to IBM’s Institute for Business Value Blockchain, 200 healthcare executives were supervised, and it was found 16% of them are expected to get a commercial blockchain solution to manage healthcare institutes.
In the next three to five years, Blockchain will have a considerable impact on patient record sharing, billing management, medical research, and various other medical departments.
Read further to understand how blockchain will help in enhancing the health record management.
How can Blockchain improve the health record management?
1. Data generation
To integrate blockchain into healthcare, first, we need to understand the scope of data and where and how it is being generated.
At every stage of medical treatment, whether it is a consultation, diagnosis, or surgery, different healthcare companies generate some sensitive and crucial medical data.
The medical data includes doctor’s prescriptions, X-rays, MRI scans, ultrasound reports, angiography, radiography, endoscopy, and so on.
But the question is whether the data is kept secure or not? Is patient’s identity removed before the data was saved? If a breach happens, will the patient’s identity be lost with it?
Though digital records overcome many inefficiencies, the patient’s medical data can be misused by hackers. A survey from Accenture claims one in five employees working in the healthcare is willing to sell the sensitive medical data to the unauthorized parties.
Electronic health records contain exploitable information like name, address, place where you work, prescribed medicines, number of doctor visits, or payment methods.
A Medical record of individuals may also contain sensitive protected health information like HIV diagnoses, cancer diagnoses, or psychological conditions. Pharma companies can use this data to sell drugs to the patients.
Once the medical data of an individual is generated, data capturing is done to make the data secure.
2. Before storing data to the blockchain
Three fundamental things to be done to clean and secure the data before storing on to the blockchain.
a. Replace the patient’s identity with the public hash key
A person’s identity can be replaced by a hash, a unique numerical value. Using “Hash” instead of an individual’s name would make it impossible for the attacker to decode the data and identify who does it belong.
Data stored on blockchain is like your cryptocurrency like bitcoin saved in your crypto wallet. The user wallet is identified with a public key, and only a secret private key can help read or understand the data.
Any healthcare service provider would require patient consent or authorization to access the protected health information. If a patient denies sharing the medical data, no healthcare provider should be able to get access to the records stored on the blockchain.
b. Make it compliance ready
Patient’s information or medical data should adhere to healthcare compliance before it gets saved on the blockchain.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Compliance ensures the protection of patient’ data. Any healthcare vendor that deals with patient’s protected health information should follow security measures to ensure they are HIPAA Compliant.
Saving data on blockchain doesn’t mean no-compliance. In fact, blockchain will make compliance enforcement more seamless and transparent.
Every healthcare provider like the diagnostic center, insurance provider, smart medical devices has to follow compliance because once the data is saved, it can’t be altered.
It is essential that the compliance check is maintained before the health records are saved on the blockchain.
c. Add meta information and structure it for computation
The medical data is categorized in different formats like administrative claim record, clinical registries, electronic health records, biometric data, patient-reported data, medical imaging, biomarker data, prospective cohort studies, and extensive clinical trials. Applying computation to clean the data is essential to store it in a well-structured way. The organized data would enable all healthcare providers to access data efficiently.
Add further information related to the timestamp, demographics, involved stakeholders, and eventually sign and provision the data to be stored on the blockchain.
After all these steps, the data is entirely prepared to be stored on the blockchain network. But why the information needs to be stored on the blockchain? Let’s understand how blockchain can bring efficiency and how the data is stored.
3. Data Storage
Currently, healthcare data is divided among different providers who use multiple databases to maintain it. The city of Boston uses 26 different systems to manage the electronic medical data. Imagine a physician needs to check the previous medical records of a patient to start a quick treatment. But he could not treat a patient as the data is inaccessible due to duplication or inconsistencies. So, Blockchain is the right solution to overcome the data exchange problems. Sometimes, patients are also asked to do re-tests in case they lose the reports.
Blockchain enables the digital health records to be distributed across nodes within the network. The data stored on blockchain can be accessible to every healthcare provider. Everyone who wants to access the patient’s data would require a private key to uncover the medical data. Using blockchain, patients can have control over who sees their data, while healthcare providers can provide better services with more accurate data. It is similar to how cryptocurrencies are stored on the blockchain, and only the owner with the private key can access it.
Smart contracts will ensure the enforcement of the business rules, compliance requirement, and the user’s will before the data is shared or retrieved.
A blockchain can either be a public or a private blockchain. Because a user identity is not visible while managing the healthcare data, a public blockchain could be used.
Once the data is stored, it needs to be consumed by different healthcare vendors using smart contracts.
4. Data consumption with Smart contracts
Stakeholders involved in the treatment of a patient can consume the stored data using patient’s private key. Let’s understand how data is consumed using smart contracts.
a. When the data is saved on the blockchain, Smart contracts are triggered.
b. Healthcare provider receives the patient’s report with a hash that does not reveal the identity.
c. The smart contract events will also notify the patient or the emergency contact to authorize that the requesting party can see the diagnostic information and the identity can be revealed.
Smart contracts will contain business logic about who gets what. For example, the insurance company might not need the personal notes provided by the doctors, or the drugs outlet may not need to see the symptoms or the X-ray report.
Smart contracts will ensure transparent, conflict-free exchange of the information. In case, the user consent is not received, the smart contracts would not allow anyone to store or exchange the data.
Blockchain enables healthcare market research companies to use healthcare data for research purposes without affecting the patient’s privacy. Read below to know how.
5. Data Mining and AI in Healthcare Blockchain
Healthcare information system on blockchain can also capture the data for medical research. Data Mining is an analytical method used for computing and discovering relationships in large data sets.
Smart contracts can once again enforce if the patient’s data can be reused for the diagnostic purpose. Data provided for the research purpose will not contain the user’s identity.
If you are looking for a blockchain development company to develop an application on the blockchain, you can discuss your requirement with our experts.
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