U.S. retail giant Walmart has been awarded a patent for a system that would store medical records on a blockchain from a wearable device, according to a patent filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The system, according to the document, will allow medical professionals to retrieve medical data from a patient that is unable to communicate. The patient’s medical records will theoretically be stored on a blockchain, accessible by a device worn by the patient that first responders could access with an RFID scanner. The patent further explains the principles of the system's operation:
“... receiving, by a processor of a computing system, an encrypted private key and a public key associated with the patient stored on a wearable device of the patient, in response to a scanning of the wearable device of the patient at a scene of an emergency, wherein the encrypted private key is decrypted by a biometric signature of the patient; obtaining, by the processor, the biometric signature of the patient by scanning a bodily feature of the patient; decrypting, by the processor, the encrypted private key using the biometric signature of the patient to determine a private key associated with the patient; and accessing, by the processor, the medical records of the patient, using a combination of the public key and the private key associated with the patient, to access a local storage medium of the wearable device.”
Additionally, the obtained medical information may be shared with hospitals and other healthcare entities, meaning that if the patient is transported from one medical care organization to another, their data will be available to medical care personnel before the patient’s arrival.
According to Fortune, Walmart is considering purchasing health insurer Humana, a company with which the retailer has an established relationship. Should the new blockchain medical record system prove viable, a partnership with Humana would provide an indispensable data depository.
Walmart has filed patents for other blockchain-based systems, including a marketplace for reselling purchased products, a “Smart Package” system to track package contents, environmental conditions, location, and other details, and an electrical grid that will be powered by Bitcoin or other digital currencies. The company’s vice president Frank Yiannas said that Walmart is ready to use blockchain technology in its live food business, which will shorten the time it takes to track produce from six days to two seconds.