In a pandemic era of unprecedented health data collection and surveillance, Singapore is turning to blockchain technology for the infrastructure that can make it work.
Government-owned investment firm SGInnovate and Singaporean startup Accredify have jointly developed a new blockchain-powered digital health passport, according to a report on Sept. 30.
Development work on the application, which allows personal medical data to be stored in a blockchain-secured digital wallet, began in May.
A successful pilot in July showed that the app was capable of managing and verifying digitized healthcare documents — including COVID-19 discharge memos, swab results, immunity proof, and vaccination records — more than 1.5 million times.
For the pilot, the health passport app was introduced as a new feature in the Singapore Manpower Ministry's FWMOMCARE app. The latter is a mobile application which was launched in May to help monitor and report migrant workers’ daily health status during the pandemic.
The digital health passport app has been built on the Open Attestation platform — an open-sourced framework for notarising documents using the blockchain, developed by the Singapore government's CIO office, GovTech.
SGInnovate’s deputy director of venture building, Simon Gordn, has said that “as the pandemic tested Singapore's healthcare sector, we identified a gap in the large-scale management of medical records.” “We wanted to quickly build a solution that enables a trusted authentication process,” he added.
In a joint statement, SGInnovate and Accredigy have said that the app will remove reliance on paper-based documents, which can be lost or tampered with. SGInnovate explained:
"Digital Health Passport leverages blockchain technology to generate tamper-proof cryptographic protections for each medical document. Users can automatically verify the digital records via a mobile app and present it to officials via QR code, for a quick and seamless verification process."
The company underscored the key advantages of blockchain technology in the field of healthcare data, insofar as it offers greater transparency, security and privacy for managing sensitive documents.
As previously reported, various companies and organizations worldwide have been exploring blockchain solutions for digital health passports and digital identity management as they attempt to open up their economies during the pandemic.