February 11, 2019

Blockchain-powered data security: A prescription for renewed trust in healthcare

by Sonal Mehta in Guest Posts, Industry, MedTech

Blockchain and data security in healthcare

One of the major challenges faced in healthcare industry is maintaining the data and information of a patient or any transaction or any operation for the reason of security and privacy. Some of the largest mal-practices in healthcare industry is identity theft, false insurance claims, manipulating data or information, etc. When such activities take place, the decision making of a doctor or a physician is obstructed too. This is because the data that is available to the doctor or physician if it is manipulated or miscommunicated, it may even lead to fatal consequences such as misdiagnosis or improper medication.

Blockchain in healthcare, today, is able to eliminate these vulnerabilities with the help of its features such as transparency, server less data storage using services like Amazon, accessibility, etc. According to a research study conducted by IBM, out of every hospital they conducted the research, 16 percent of the hospital institutions are either willing to use blockchain for security purposes. The research study states that by 2020, around 56 percent of the hospital institutions will be using blockchain in healthcare for data security and also enhance their interoperability.

healthcare blockchain

Enhancing data integrity with blockchain

One of the major difficulties faced by doctors and physicians in healthcare industry is integrating patient data from different hospital institutions. Everyday new patient comes in, new treatments are invented to better treat patients, which in turn increases the data involved in the process. Such data might be lab reports, patient medical records, doctor or hospital institution that treated the patient, medication prescribed, etc.

The data size keeps increasing every day and thus it also increases the need for large storage to maintain and handle the data efficiently. As the size keep increasing, traditionally verifying the stored data is difficult as there is either no orderly arrangement or the chances of a data not getting stored is high. This might result in problems in sharing data too.

With blockchain, this problem is eliminated as it provides the means to integrate data from different parties using a strong peer to peer connection without any restriction. Hence, doctors are able to trace back the source of data that is displayed too. This increases the integrity value, providing quality to the data.

Secured connectivity between disparate data

Achieving consensus between different parties within a hospital industry is one of the toughest jobs to handle. This is because various people are involved in various transactions to complete a particular operation. For example, when a patient uses a hospital ambulance service, various people come into the picture and multiple transactions take place. These group of people include ambulance drivers, doctors and tasks such as getting operating theatre ready, financial transactions, logistics support to make sure the ambulance arrives at the right time, etc.

With blockchain it is easier to coordinate all people involved in the transaction and coordinating different tasks. This allows all operative tasks to take place without delay or any error or miscommunication.

Secured identity with blockchain

What would happen if a person provides a false identity of a doctor and misdiagnose the disease or prescribe wrongful medications? It may traumatize the patient for life due to the consequences of the misdiagnosis. With false identify, the threat increases for data and private information of the patient of hospital institution stored, etc. If these data and information is manipulated, it might even lead mal-practice of laundering money or even fatal to the patient if the data manipulated is used in operative tasks.

With blockchain these mal-practices are eliminated. Since, blockchain operates over a decentralized network, the network provides the ability to store data with high encryption. Data is stored in the form of blocks and chunks cryptographically and thus, manipulating or changing any stored data is not easy. Patients, Doctors and Physicians are also able to authenticate license of any service provided as blockchain provides evidence to all data stored.

To change the data, the whole network system has to be shut down and changes to be made to the entire network. This is close to impossible in healthcare industry due to various transactions and operations that take place non-stop.

Compliance with legal regulatory standards

One of the major challenges faced by healthcare industry is complying with the legal rules and standards set by HIPAA. HIPAA requires every hospital organization to handle data over a secured channel which provides privacy and security to the identifiable information or records stored. HIPAA also focuses on the authorizing process that the hospital undertakes to ensure patient safety and operating efficiency.

Blockchain provides a decentralized authority than enhances faster transaction and stores data digitally with encryption over a decentralized network. Thus, with blockchain, healthcare industry is able to meet the regulatory standards set by HIPAA hassle-free without any obstacles. This creates trust between stakeholders and the hospital organization too.

Blockchain Healthcare Startups

Following are some healthcare startups according to the source medium that have started incorporating blockchain to ensure data security and also cultivate trust in healthcare.

Startup Service provided with blockchain
GuardtimeSecuring the healthcare records of the patient. Read more…
Cyph MDBuilding a secured communication between different healthcare service providers. Read more…
GemPromoting collaboration of healthcare with blockchain.
Read more…
Med
Rec
Secure patient medical records. Read more…
IRYOMedical research management. Read more…
blockchain provides efficient prescription to healthcare industry

Blockchain helps to overcome healthcare concerns raised in relation with privacy, accessibility, security of medical and healthcare data. Blockchain also helps to prevent security breach and proves to be a reliable technology that will benefit the patient and healthcare industry as a whole. Most of all, blockchain provides digital protection to healthcare.

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