How On-Chain Medical Data Can Help Save Lives, Health News, ET HealthWorld

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By Adam Gagol

Medical records are one of the most important links in the healthcare chain, but they are not always properly updated and data entry puts a strain on doctors and nurses. However, the answer may lie in the power of blockchain technology, which enables untrustworthy verification of tamper-proof data and records. By leveraging the data on the chain, hospitals and patients will be both better served and safer in the future of modern medicine.
Modern Medical Records Once upon a time, medical records were handwritten and on paper. As technology evolved, it eventually made more sense to start using electronic documents. The benefits of an electronic health record (EHR) system include cost savings, real-time visibility of patient data by physicians exactly where it is needed, and improvements in accuracy. To this day, the system still reigns supreme.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any issues just yet, however. EHRs are typically kept on systems provided to hospitals by third parties, and not all are created alike or even can interact properly. Some EHR vendors have even been accused of fraud and prosecuted for selling non-functional products. This means that different systems can have different sets of records for a patient, which is obviously quite dangerous and hardly an improvement over the old paper system. Considering that Johns Hopkins University has ranked medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States, it is starting to become evident that a better system needs to be implemented.

It’s not just for the benefit of the patients either. Practitioners are also grappling with the current state of affairs. Many claim that data entry has become too much of a part of their workday, reducing the actual time spent with patients and other essential tasks. On top of that, due to the regulated way most input interfaces are created, physicians cannot be as explicit or varied in their records as they want – or as clear as they could have been. be if they still used pen and paper. The bottom line is that the industry needs an evolution, and luckily blockchain technology may be the answer.
Blockchain to the RescueBlockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin and NFT, acts as an immutable ledger that is also available to anyone who can access the network. The data itself and a transparent history of any changes made to it is cryptographically verified and cannot be tampered with so that there is no possible conflict in what it says or when it was first updated. day. Applying this to EHRs would mean that doctors and nurses would not only see the exact same information from a single, trusted platform, they would also be able to see when each update occurred and who it was. has update. Patients could also access and view their own records, even allowing them to correct any information they know to be incorrect. Of course, to maintain accuracy, all updates will need to be managed through a regulated interface, but simple chart review should be easy for patients and providers alike.

By creating pools of accurate and up-to-date information that physicians and patients trust, blockchain can transform drug development and clinical trials. One of the main obstacles here is the lack of consent from patients and the government to use medical data for research purposes. By creating greater confidence in how data is stored and within limits allowed by local regulations and consenting patients, researchers would be able to study the data to develop and test various hypotheses – ultimately leading to better treatments and more lives saved.

One of the important pillars of a system like this will be the way data is collected and accessed. Here, one of the key devices that will be used is already in the pockets of billions of people around the world. Mobile technology, especially cell phones, can serve as both an entry interface and an access point, streamlining operations and enabling better monitoring of the quality of care. For privacy reasons, some form of login or identification would still be required, so that patients could only access their own records, but once verified, they could be fully convinced that what they are seeing is this. which is considered official.
More privacy, more power On that note, there may be a concern about patient privacy at this point. After all, we’ve established that anyone can see information on a blockchain. Well, that’s partly true. On the one hand, blockchains can be made private, which means that, as mentioned, there would always be a login system to access. Additionally, while all data movements on a decentralized ledger are visible to anyone with access, the data itself can still be encrypted. Only those who have the correct “key” will be able to actually view the recordings.

The combination of these systems actually offers more security, as there should be no “third parties” who can actually access anyone’s records, nor any realistic way to “hack” a blockchain. It also puts more power in the hands of the patient than ever before. Now the individual can basically allow access only to whomever they want, such as their specific doctor. In addition, limits such as time windows can be imposed on access, which means that after the visit or the concerned procedure is completed, the records are re-sealed, until the patient gives permission to go. again their consultation.

What is often impossible to do due to confidentiality restrictions is to use aggregated patient data from multiple sources (eg, hospitals in different jurisdictions) to teach a prediction model to help to diagnose future patients. This is something that cryptography can also help. Due to techniques often used in the blockchain space, such as ZK-SNARKs and MPCs, it is quite possible to perform such calculations on encrypted data.

Of course, even more complex authorization systems can be developed, allowing families to access each other’s information, etc. Ultimately, the exact infrastructure has yet to be implemented, but the need has never been greater, as recent privacy concerns over sharing medical data show. Today’s EHR systems are fragmented, outdated and unreliable, and stifle the patient’s voice over who has access to their records. Modern technologies such as blockchain will revolutionize the way medical records are kept, and the industry must carefully consider and embrace this change.

By Adam Gagol, Ph.D., is the co-founder of the Aleph Zero Foundation.

(DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily endorse them. ETHealthworld.com will not be liable for any damages caused to any person / organization directly or indirectly.)

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