BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS ON HEALTHCARE RECORDS
BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS ON HEALTHCARE RECORDS – Blockchain is a decentralized and public digital ledger that records transactions on many computers so that no record involved can be altered retroactively without altering any blocks afterwards. Blockchain is verified and linked to the preceding ‘block,’ forming a long chain. After all, Blockchain is the name of the record.
As any transaction is registered and checked publicly, Blockchain provides a good deal of accountability. When entered, no one can modify all the information written in the Blockchain. It serves to demonstrate that the data is actual and unchanged. In Blockchain, data are maintained on networks instead of a central database, improving stability and showing its proneness to be hacked.
Blockchain offers a fantastic forum to develop and compete with traditional companies for modern and creative business models. This interest and momentum has now extended to healthcare information technology.
In healthcare, Blockchain has a wide range of applications and functions. The ledger technology helps healthcare researchers uncover genetic code by facilitating the secure transfer of patient medical records, managing the drug supply chain, and facilitating the safe transfer of patient medical records.
Protection of healthcare data, various genomics management, electronic data management, medical records, interoperability, digitalized tracking and issues outbreak, etc., are some of the technically derived and impressive features employed to develop and practice Blockchain technology. The complete digitalized aspects of Blockchain technology and its use in healthcare-related applications are the significant reasons for its adoption
BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS ON HEALTHCARE RECORDS
Healthcare Records are Data or information kept in relation to prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical, nursing, and allied health professions.
There are three types of medical records commonly used by patients and doctors:
Personal health record (PHR)
A PHR is a medical record you keep for yourself, which can be on paper, a device, or the internet. PHRs on websites provided by your health plan allow you to type in information and give your doctor quick access to it for better care. Your information is protected and only accessible with permission.
Electronic medical record (EMR)
EMRs are electronic files used by doctors instead of paper records. They handle scheduling and billing. Some doctors still use paper. EMRs stay in the office computer system and can’t usually be shared with other providers outside of that system
Electronic health record (EHR)
Electronic health records (EHRs) are built to be shared with other health care providers who all use the same system. So, with an EHR system, your family doctor can instantly send medical records to your heart specialist, your hospital, the lab, your drugstore, and your computer at home. The goal of EHRs is to improve the coordination of your care by giving providers accurate, up-to-date information. This includes information from you, the patient.
Healthcare Applications of Blockchain
Realizing the potential relevance and importance of blockchain in health care, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, in 2016, organized an ideation challenge for soliciting white papers on the potential use of blockchain in health care.
This challenge resulted in several proposed healthcare applications for blockchain. While storing the entire health record within the blockchain could be envisioned as a use case for health care, several potential barriers to implementation have been identified, including concerns with privacy, compliance with regulatory requirements, and the technical barriers related to data storage and distribution.
Because of this, most short-term proposals have focused on data validation, auditing, and authorization.
EHR AND BLOCK CHAIN TECHNOLOGY
With traditional paper-based medical records, electronic health records (EHRs) are widely used because of their efficiency, security, and reducing data redundancy. However, EHRs still manifest poor interoperability and privacy issues are unresolved. As a distributed ledger protocol composed of encrypted blocks of data organized in chains, blockchain represents a potential tool to solve the shortcomings of EHRs in terms of interoperability and privacy.
In healthcare, clinical trials are being conducted to assess the effectiveness of such therapies to treat or provide a partial remedy to a particular disease. Scientists can record data on test outcomes, person numbers, patient records, and other variables. Data collected during clinical trials should be authenticated so that scientists, pharmaceutical firms, and policymakers can be confident in the quality of results.
In clinical trials, Blockchain technology could provide greater transparency and accountability. The health care Blockchain has enormous record-keeping leverage, as the blocks are made available to clinicians and patients, while the processing of medical history is done with an awareness of patient issues.
An EHR-related implementation is MedRec, a project started between MIT Media Lab and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. This platform offers a decentralized approach to managing permissions, authorization, and data sharing between healthcare systems.
The use of blockchain in this application is intended to give patients the ability to have agency over and knowledge of who can access their healthcare data. These permissions can be shared on a blockchain to create a more automated approach to data sharing for clinical and research use, even though the actual healthcare data are not stored in the blockchain.
While the permissions, data storage location, and audit logs are maintained in the blockchain, all healthcare information remains in EHR systems and requires additional software components to enable true interoperability. To enable interoperability, the MedRec framework employs a complex series of “smart contracts” on an Ethereum blockchain between patients and visitors, including the registrar contract, the patient-provider relationship contract, and a summary contract to protect patient privacy and standardize the form of EHR.
The MedRec project has been tested as a proof of concept with medication data, and the developers are looking to enhance the project’s scope by adding more data types, data contributors, and users. As shown by this proof of concept, biomedical and outcomes research may significantly benefit from the application of blockchain to provide rapid, secure access to longitudinal research data.
EMR AND BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATION
In the medical system, the verification, preservation and synchronization of electronic medical records has always been a difficult problem, and the random dissemination of patient records will bring various risks to patient privacy. Therefore, how to achieve secure data sharing on the basis of ensuring users’ personal privacy becomes the key. In recent years, blockchain has been proposed to be a promising solution to achieve data sharing with security and privacy preservation due to its advantages of immutability.
One potential solution to this problem is creating a blockchain-based system for medical records that can be linked into existing electronic medical record software and act as an overarching, single view of a patient’s record. It is crucial to emphasize that actual patient data does not go on the blockchain, but that each new record appended to the blockchain, whether a physician’s note, a prescription or a lab result, is translated into a unique hash function a small string of letters and numbers. Every hash function is unique, and can only be decoded if the person who owns the data – in this case, the patient gives their consent.
In this scenario, every time there is an amendment to a patient record, and every time the patient consents to share part of their medical record, it is logged on the blockchain as a transaction. Medicalchain is a leading example of a company working with healthcare providers to implement blockchain enabled EMRs.
Benefits of Blockchain-Enabled EMRs:
A comprehensive single source of truth of a patient’s medical records, creating a better experience for patients and healthcare providers
They enable patients to see every time their medical records are updated and to give explicit consent every time, they are shared with healthcare providers or others. Patients can also choose to share their medical records (or part of their medical records) with researchers and set time limits on how long any third party can have access to their medical information.
Challenges of using blockchain in healthcare
Adoption: The adoption of blockchain in healthcare has been slow for several reasons, including the fear of litigation and the perception of blockchain as a newer technology.
Scalability: Some healthcare organizations are concerned that blockchain systems won’t be able to scale as needed to support their needs.
Security vulnerabilities: Despite some security advantages, blockchains also can have potential security vulnerabilities that are especially concerning with healthcare applications.