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Protecting medical records with blockchain

Blockchain technology provides a secure basis for protecting medical records and with it, patient privacy. Several new providers of medical record technology have emerged and are causing considerable disruption of the sector.

The reason why blockchain is being taken up by health establishments is due to the additional security and transparency that comes with the technology. Blockchain is an encrypted ledger of digital transactions via a peer-to-peer-type network. Blockchain’s advantage in the health field is that it creates an auditable log.

Blockchain technology enables each health professional to submit information and to have their own digital copy of the ledger. This is in contrast to conventional systems where all data is located at one centralized location. Importantly no new transaction can be input, or data committed, without the majority of nodes agreeing that it is indeed accurate.

This type of technology can benefit healthcare, especially where different healthcare facilities possess their own version of a patient’s records. When a person visits several different healthcare providers during the course of their life, each record issued by the facility is more often different. This presents complications for a patient’s personal health. Blockchain solutions offer the possibility of pulling these strands together.

Several companies are entering the medical records space, offering blockchain solutions.

Medibloc

MediBloc is a scheme that aims to place patients in control of their individual medical records. This systems passes ownership to the patient and it offers the patient control in relation to who has access to this medical data. This process prevents pharmaceutical companies from accessing the data unless the patient consents.

Dentacoin

The Netherlands-based Dentacoin Foundation provides a blockchain-based dental health database. The decentralized system stores patient data and it is controlled by its users. There are advantages for the medical profession with the system as well. For dentists this system enables more accurate and individualized treatment plans to be constructed, based on a review of individual patient medical records.

Medicalchain

Medicalchain produce a database that allows users to grant permission to medical professionals to access the data held on the system. Each time data is accessed, this is logged, making the platform integral, transparent, and secure via the blockchain. The nature of the digital ledger means that patient’s privacy is protected at each stage.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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