Could Blockchain Be the Answer to Electronic Health Record?
Guest post by Fizzah Iqbal, content writer, Incubasys.
After a number of initial coin offerings being launched in the cryptocurrency market, blockchain development companies plan to introduce blockchain technology to the health records (EHR) industry. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a digitised version of patient’s medical history maintained by their doctors over a period of time. It includes information on demographics, diagnosis, vital signs, past medical history, progress over time, lab tests and more.
Owing to the de-centralised nature of blockchain system, it securely stores health records and maintains a single version of the truth that cannot be tampered with. This is of significant importance to different medical organisations and individuals like doctors, hospitals, labs, and insurers who can request permission to access a certain patient’s record from the blockchain without involving an intermediary. It offers two-way benefits; first, doctors and medical organisations get access to patients’ details and history without losing any precious time waiting for approvals from any intermediary and provide better patient care based on more accurate data, second, patients have more control over who sees their data.
The biggest challenge faced by healthcare systems throughout the world is how to share medical data with known and unknown parties for different reasons without violating patients’ rights and ensuring data security. Creating a trusted environment for decision-making regarding EHRs is challenging for medical community since each EHR stores data using different workflows which makes tracking data recording rather ambiguous. The growing focus on care coordination and EHR access across the care continuum has raised questions about ways to ensure that multiple providers can view, edit and share patient’s data without violating their rights and privacy in any way.
It’s not only about the problem of data sharing logistics in HER instead every solution that requires serious contemplation in a national healthcare system needs to put patient’s privacy and rights first in their list of priorities. And although laws have made health care data more accessible, vast majority of hospitals and doctors still cannot share data safely and securely. The time has arrived where solutions are needed in which patients themselves control whom to share their data with and where to remain pseudonymous.
Healthcare data is inherently sensitive in nature. Besides that the constant challenges of interoperability, patient record matching, and health information exchange have created opportunities for blockchain development companies to come up with a blockchain-based solution.
Once a blockchain solution is deployed to manage EHRs, it becomes a unified and common backbone for digital health. The biggest advantage of using this backbone is that each hospital or care provider no longer needs a specific version of databases or software to access patient data. Any information presented by EHR on the distributed ledger of a permissioned blockchain would be perfectly reconciled community-wide with the assured integrity throughout without any human intervention.
The use of blockchain technology to manage EHRs reduces the time it takes any medical representative to access patient’s information, enhance system interoperability and improve data quality. It also enables a reduction in overhead costs especially for development and maintenance of legacy health record systems. What blockchain does for everyone in healthcare system is that instead of relying on a designated intermediary for information exchange the de-centralised nature of blockchain allows any approved party to join in and either access information, share or exchange without the need to build data exchange channels between certain organisations.