Can Blockchain Help Health Systems Eliminate Costs And Boost Security?
Blockchain technology can play a vital role in the administration of medical records, according to a new commentary declared in npj Digital Medicine. This can ease health systems to enhance safety and decrease costs at the same time—and it eventually leads to better patient results.
“To ensure that healthcare systems do not remain an accessible target for hackers, sufficient precautions must be put in place to protect patients’ sensitive data,” wrote lead author Anuraag A. Vazirani, the University of Oxford in the UK, and colleagues. “Blockchain uses public-key cryptography to secure data: a public and a private key are generated for each user using a one-way encryption function (hash). Both parties may use these in a transaction: the sender signs, and the receiver verifies, using their private key, and public keys are used to send transactions to a recipient. This allows the recipient to verify the validity of the chain of information.”
By utilizing blockchain to handle health records, providers can obtain more than just enhanced security—they also seem to accomplish a certain way to chop down on additional studies. When a patient’s previous results are unavailable, exams are often required that could have been avoided completely. With blockchain in court, however, a system’s interoperability will be so secure that “unavailable results” can become a thing of the history. And, the authors added, the “authorized sharing of data comes at no extra cost.”
Vazirani et al. noted that previous studies have shown just how much of an influence blockchain can make on a health system, giving us valuable examples as the technology continues to develop.
For instance, MedRec, a system developed in 2016 by researchers in Boston, utilizes a cloud-based medical record and blockchain to “record patient-provider interactions via smart contracts.”
This, the authors explained, “not only allows data to be accessed with consent by a patient’s multiple healthcare providers but also accommodates access for epidemiological researchers.”
Nevertheless, blockchain doesn’t magically resolve all security concerns going ahead. Even an excellent setup can be hit with a “51% attack,” which includes attackers effectively revising the chain structure. Fortuitously, there are ways to defend against such a situation.
“The use of a ‘permissioned’ (as opposed to permissionless) blockchain … can allow a healthcare system to rule out any possibility of this style of attack,” the authors wrote.
“This method limits those who can run full nodes, issue transactions, execute smart contracts, and read transaction history to approved computers and users. This feature, therefore, increases the integrity of the system, as well as guarding against hackers, and strengthens the system beyond its robust foundation of public-key cryptography.”
The most efficient method for blockchain-based medical record management, according to the researchers, maybe for outside parties to manage the health system’s records. This enables patients to be approved in a way that has not previously been possible” and keeps patient data entirely secure.
There are other benefits as well for providers as well. Blockchain-based medical record management makes it easy to analyze statistics using AI, for example, and it can “contribute important information to the system,” leading to improved patient-centered care across the board.
“Blockchain represents an innovative vehicle to manage medical records, ensuring interoperability but without compromising security,” the authors concluded.
“It also protects patient privacy, allowing patients to choose who can view their data. Returns as the interfacing of systems would outweigh investments into this technology leads to increased collaboration between patients and healthcare providers, and improved healthcare outcomes.”