Blockchain could Change Patient Health Records

Personal Health Records, or PHRs, are the most advanced medical records that give patients personalized, fine-grained, and secure access to personal health records. It makes self-management and cares much easier. With the emerging trends around Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology, more solutions to technology-enabled nuances, specifically data exchange, data access, and support content, would likely benefit.

Ledger of Me – An Innovative Concept

A study was conducted to analyze existing Blockchain-based health record solutions together with reference architecture to a system – Ledger of Me – that is an extension of PHR and creates a new platform representing data that combines medical data as well as digital interventions.

The purpose of this research was to enable patients to use their data for better care and provide a stronger consent mechanism to share data between various apps and organizations.

Ledger of Me functions on certain principles combining event-driven smart contracts, patient control, and medical record data. All of these are important to adopt block-chain based solutions for PHR.

Function of Blockchain

To give patients better control over their personal medical records has been the target of CMS. However, the capability of engaging patients in their personal data goes a step ahead with the latest blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a digital ledger, which records all information related to transactions. It is expected that this technology could have a potential impact on the space of healthcare, patient records, clinical trials, and wearable. By injecting this technology, it would be possible to achieve a better and secure system, writes Lucas Mearian for Computer World.

Defining blockchain in simple language – “it is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.”

Traditional currencies require trusted third parties, such as government organizations and banks, guaranteeing transactions, verifying identity, and underwriting funds to prevent fraud. In the Internet era, it is difficult to assure identity. As such, transactions are also not secure.

With Bitcoin as the underlying technology for peer-to-peer electronic currency, later called crypto-currency, it was possible to provide an extraordinary solution.

Besides typical health/medical records, patients using wearables or similar tracking technology could also consent to provide adequate information like sleep, diet, and exercise data. Furthermore, this information could be shared with physicians to give them an insight into the overall health condition of a patient. Blockchain could also help secure all the data, thus giving patients more engagement and control of their personal medical records.

In its roots, blockchain is a more secure and strong platform for all kinds of clinical trials. The data being immutable, it creates a trail for oversight.

With a blockchain network dedicated to health information, there is a possibility of solving one of the biggest lags with Electronic Health Records (EHRs). When EHRs were built across the software from multiple vendors and for several healthcare providers, EHRs continued to grow without even sharing information between healthcare providers. It allowed seamless data integration from various sources as well. As a result, the set up keeps valuable data soloed and unused.

With this huge technological advancement over the past three decades, blockchain has been perceived to be the next disruptive technology that could rapidly transform business sectors as well as the economy. In spite of such hype, the past 10 years of blockchain technology and development has witnessed tremendous growth. Nevertheless, it failed to deliver an equal amount of transformation impact.

Today, blockchain is widely accepted to be less disruptive than foundational. Instead of providing a new mechanism to replace existing ways to work directly, just like the way the internet has boosted banking, it delivers the groundwork for excellent technology for innovation as well as disruption in the future.

Healthcare Solutions based on Blockchain

Applications using the latest blockchain technology in healthcare were identified through a keyword-based search for terms like Personal Health Record, PHR, Distributed Ledger Technology, Blockchain, and DLT. The search was conducted over both academic literature as well as gray literature to arrive at solutions that are still in use or under development. The search led to eleven such solutions. However, there were no details or whitepaper regarding the features of applications.

While most of the solutions are relatively at a nascent stage of development, five are under review. All these solutions focus on the key benefits of blockchain and aim to provide access to data (audited) and allow patients to manage their consent. Consent management and access to healthcare data have garnered attention as a potential target for all the latest blockchain-based applications, emphasizing on patients receiving better access and control of their data.

When Blockchain was introduced for the first time, mobile technology and computers were not trusted as much as it is today. However, continued application and use made it an integral part of our lives. Acceptance and adoption of blockchain technology still hinge on booming satisfaction and understanding.