In an age where consumers have access and control over all types of data, it is indispensable for patients to own their health data. Today, providers are the primary stewards of EMRs and not the patients. Patients should be able to have complete control over sharing of personal health data and there must not be a provision to add/ modify this data without the consent of the patient.
Due to its very nature, the health industry is usually the last to get onboard with technology innovation, and same is the case with blockchain.
Blockchain can be an effective platform for storage and utilization of medical records and is set to revolutionize the way we share and utilize the data.
With blockchain technology medical records can be held in a centralized secure location. The patient can control access to data usage by providing and revoking access based on who needs to see data and who does not. This way, there is a secure and controlled way of sharing data with relevant healthcare stakeholders like the doctor, pharmacy or health insurance companies, based on the need.
Apart from monitoring activities on the blockchain and detecting abusive practices, It is possible to trace back to the origin of an access provided, a consent given or an update made inside the blockchain.
Here is one of many hypothetical Scenarios from the near future:
a) Ronald has arrived at the ER room and has been received by the ER doctor
b) Ronald’s interactive wristband is swiped to know his blockchain ID number, using which his address* can be mapped and medical record details can be securely retrieved from his primary care physician/ hospital
c) Encounter is now complete and EMR saves the encounter data locally, in the form of a C-CDA* version of the data
d) The built-in Block chain client platform in the EMR, encrypts the document using the public key* from Ronald’s wrist band and connects to the blockchain for broadcast
e) The encrypted C-CDA document is then broadcasted along with information about its source and subject and is committed as a transaction to the blockchain
f) The transaction is validated by both the sender and the receiving hospital in real time
g) The receiving hospital uses a similar decryption key security to obtain access to Ronald’s now-updated blockchain health care account with all of the encounter details recorded by the ER doctor
h) Ronald has now recovered and since his EMR vendor also provides a patient portal, he is able to connect to the blockchain and is able to download all documents. Ronald can access these documents after decrypting them using his private key* and can share them with other providers as and when needed
C-CDA: Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture.
Private Key: Private keys are similar to passwords. Private keys are cryptographic signatures that must never be revealed to anyone, as they allow access secure data.
Public key: The Private Key is used to mathematically derive the Public Key, which is then transformed with a hash function to produce the address that other people can see.
Address: are used to receive and send transactions on the network. An address is a string of alphanumeric characters, but can also be represented as a scannable QR code (in the case of wristband).
Sr. Business Analyst