Healthcare data breaches are becoming more commonplace with one in ten healthcare providers suffering a breach since 2016, and in 2017, the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack affected more than 300,000 machines in 150 countries. In the UK, almost 80 National Health Service hospitals in Britain were forced to divert patients, as they were unable to access medical records. According to DeloitteBlockchain technology has the potential to transform health care, placing the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data.
This technology could provide a new model for health information exchanges (HIE) by making electronic medical records more efficient, disintermediated, and secure. While it is not a panacea, this new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing. A blockchain-powered health information exchange could unlock the true value of interoperability. These systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate the friction and costs of current intermediaries. Capitalizing on this technology has the potential to connect fragmented systems to generate insights and to better assess the value of care. In the long term, a nationwide blockchain network for electronic medical records may improve efficiencies and support better health outcomes for patients.
Innovators are already experimenting with blockchain use cases in the healthcare context that demonstrates many of the blockchain security benefits. Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a prototype system called MedRec, an open-source prototype that applies blockchain smart contracts to create a decentralized content-management system for healthcare data. The MedRec pilot program illustrated that the system disperses authorization data across participating entities, rather than creating a central target for attacks. The MedRec prototype provides a proof-of-concept system, demonstrating how principles of decentralization and blockchain architectures could contribute to secure, interoperable EHR systems.
Using Ethereum smart contracts to orchestrate a content-access system across separate storage and provider sites, the MedRec authentication log governs medical record access while providing patients with comprehensive record review, care auditability and data sharing. We demonstrate an innovative approach for integrating with providers’ existing systems, prioritizing open APIs and network structure transparency.
Blockchain technology, while still nascent, presents numerous opportunities. A blockchain-enabled, trusted exchange of health information can provide longitudinal views of patients’ health, generate new insights about population health, and support the move toward value-based care. With greater transparency, trust, and access to data, health services can then also garner insights for better safety, effectiveness, quality, and security of foods, drugs, vaccines, and medical devices. The promise of blockchain has widespread implications for stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. Capitalizing on this technology has the potential to connect fragmented systems to generate insights and to better assess the value of care. In the long term, a nationwide blockchain network may improve efficiencies and support better health outcomes for patients.
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Asia Blockchain Review is the largest initiative for media and community building in Asia for blockchain technology. It aims to connect all blockchain enthusiasts on a regional scale and facilitate the technological foundation of blockchain through a range of group discussions, technical workshops, conferences, and consulting programs.
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