Blockchain Technology and What it Means for Electronic Health Records

The applications for blockchain technology only seem to be limited by the imagination. It’s inevitable that if there’s a way to store or manipulate data in a traditional way, blockchain will come along and suggest an alternative approach.

The healthcare industry, with its reliance on the secure storage and transmission of medical data, is a natural choice for disruption. What, then, can we expect to see as healthcare data needs evolve and blockchain technology positions itself as a universal panacea?

A Quick Overview of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is a “shared, decentralized, distributed ledger of all transactions across a network.” That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s break it down. Essentially, blockchain technology securely distributes data across many computers, ensuring that all those computers can validate any transactions on the blockchain.

It’s a way to distribute information in a very secure, decentralized way. Blockchain technology is what cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are based on, although the technology extends far beyond currencies. It allows for a common, shared record of information that can only be updated by authentic transactions.

How Blockchain Technology Can be Applied to Healthcare Data

The main impact of the blockchain on electronic health records (EHRs) would be to create “one version of the truth.” This would be an EHR for a patient that has all of the information from multiple sources:

  • Diagnostic and lab tests.
  • Doctor and medical provider records.
  • Insurance records.
  • Updates on procedures and treatment plans.
  • Hospital, clinic, and ER visits.
  • Drugs and pharmaceuticals.
  • And every other area which would impact on a person’s health.

The distributed nature of the blockchain means that users with the proper authority would be able to access the EHR and make the changes. The distributed, secure nature of blockchain technology would ensure that changes could only be made by authorized users and would then authenticate that information.

The Benefits of Blockchain for EHR

There are several benefits to EHR supported by blockchain, they are:

  • It would give patients easier access to their EHRs so they could check them over and correct erroneous data.
  • All authorized providers or people with a legitimate need for access to a patient’s EHR would be able to add to it.
  • Theoretically, important information would only need to be provided once, then updated only if it changed. A person would not have to give their contact details, medical history, drug breakdown, and other information repeatedly.
  • Any hacking attempts on medical records with an attempt to change the data in the EHR would be quickly discovered and the data would be reverted to the “correct” version.

Blockchain vs. Encrypted Healthcare Data in the Cloud

So, how does blockchain technology stack up against using a dedicated, encrypted cloud service like OfxCloud™ to store sensitive medical information? Well, blockchain technology for healthcare data is still in its infancy, and we aren’t yet seeing many practical examples of how it works. This means the technology is still unproven, and there are big logistical, compliance, legal, and security issues that need to be overcome.

Although blockchain technology may resolve these issues in the long-term, right now a dedicated, encrypted, cloud-based, scalable, and resilient storage system provides all the benefits of blockchain with none of the risks.

The EHR security experts at Panoptex strive to provide a unique, tailored big data storage, processing, and complex analysis solution that delivers optimum value as well as unrivaled security to customers. If you want to learn more about how we can help with your organization’s EHR security, contact us today at (407) 777-2555.

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