Recently, an increasing number of startups and organizations in the medical industry have proposed numerous projects to secure health data on a Blockchain network.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services are currently accepting white papers for a Blockchain-based health record system and has launched a Health IT challenge to implement Blockchain-based medical record systems onto their existing platforms.
The Department explains in the papers:
"The paper should discuss the cryptography and underlying fundamentals of Blockchain technology, examine how the use of Blockchain can advance industry interoperability needs expressed in the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, patient centered outcomes research (PCOR), precision medicine, and other health care delivery needs, as well as provide recommendations for Blockchain’s implementation."
Over the past few years, the immutability and transparency of the Blockchain technology have been exploited by major corporations, banks, and organizations.
Recurrent experiments and pilot tests of Blockchain-based platforms conducted by financial institutions have proved the practicality of the Blockchain technology in settling financial transactions and assets of value, as it significantly decreased costs dealt by banks.
Over time, companies discovered the possibility of storing alternative data in transactions and the Blockchain technology’s potential in various industries including the insurance and medical markets.
"In essence, it is a just a distributed ledger to record transactions. What makes it special is that it is durable, time-stamped, transparent and decentralized. Those characteristics are equally useful for managing financial transactions as for a system of reputation. In fact, you can think of reputation as a type of currency for social capital, rather than financial capital."
Healthcare organizations and medical companies can benefit from three key advantages of using a Blockchain-based IT network over their current systems: transparency, security, and real-time visibility.
A Blockchain network-based platform is built on a decentralized network of computers and protocols. This means it is that much harder to attack and hack in comparison to centralized servers and databases.
In 2015, health care company Anthem suffered from one of the largest data hacks in the history of the industry, with over 80 million personal data records compromised by hackers. Even worse, it took nearly 9 months for the organization to discover the breach in their systems.
A Blockchain-based system will enhance the existing security protocols in organizations like Anthem. Furthermore, the real-time visibility and transparency enables anyone on the network to easily view data records instantaneously.
For instance, if partners, customers, and employees of Anthem attempt to access the data on a Blockchain network, a custom-coded system will allow them to search for data at exact time stamps anchored on the blocks of the network.
“There is a major push towards a more patient-centric focus in healthcare, yet your data is stored all over the place in kind of a Frankenstein concoction of records with very little interoperability of file formats between systems. But we are exploring the ways we can provide real-time access to data across multiple providers and caregivers. We are looking at how we move medical-related data on a Blockchain.”