Using blockchain technology, HLTH aims to solve problems in data sharing by creating a secure infrastructure and a fast, interoperable network that is globally accessible.
HLTH uses the blockchain to consolidate global health data and create a single repository. This will make it easier for people to access the data from all parts of the world. It also allows interoperability and security with other institutions. Individuals will be able to access multiple research centers or institutions at once thanks to the autonomy provided by the blockchain. Additional integrations can be found in the ecosystem, such as NFTs which carry genomic data.
Identifying the Problem
The American government has already recognized the need for a change in the healthcare data sharing industry. Nearly 20% of national GDP goes to the $10T healthcare sector. Inefficiencies in data sharing lead to high costs and deaths due medical malpractice. A roadmap released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology outlines the requirements for an improved system. This includes researching new technologies and planning how they will be implemented, and building them and setting them up nationwide. Then, it is important to educate the public and make that system the standard.
Many healthcare facilities in America currently use the EHR (or electronic health record), which was developed using the Health IT roadmap. However, not everyone uses this method, and many of those who do use it don’t use it properly. Information isn’t shared back and forth. Data created in any other system is isolated from the rest of the network and therefore, cannot be shared back and forth.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger which is used to store and track transaction data. This means that instead of having a single repository for all transactions, the entire transaction history can be stored on multiple devices. It allows peer-to–peer transactions. No mediator is required. In addition to its decentralized structure, cryptographic algorithms aid in security. With external attacks, it is nearly impossible to modify or destroy the data on the blockchain. Every user is free to interact with each other and the blockchain. Transactions are easily visible and can also be tracked.
This is how authenticity, ownership and scarcity are possible in a digital world. The data cannot be deleted or copied, and can also be traced back at its source. Data can be accessed anywhere on the planet at any given time. The individual can take ownership of the data they have and then verify that it is authentic to trusted institutions. Large institutions might not have previously trusted someone to submit their data without verification from a third-party.
Why Blockchain is the Solution
Presently, regarding interoperability, healthcare data systems are not interconnected. The amount of data being generated each day is increasing rapidly, but it’s all created in isolated systems. If you are a patient trying to access your healthcare information for your private or professional use, it might not be easy to find your medical history. If your data was created in a laboratory, pharmacy or app, it is not available on other platforms. This can be ineffective, and possibly harmful, to the patient’s well-being. The vast majority of information available to healthcare professionals is not accessible to them.
Anyone can access the information on the blockchain without authorization. This information will be available to anyone, provided that it is openly accessible. This allows individuals to have their own records. Patients have ownership and control over their individual patient records. Certified healthcare professionals are not allowed to modify them. If the patient gives this information to their doctor, they may be able to use blockchain technology to verify previous inputs or updates. It is important that patients are honest about their conditions. Patients and doctors can keep their records up to date by only using one source of data. Anyone with permission from the patient may view and change any information at anytime. The provided process will ensure that no detail is missed. Each transaction is added to the blockchain. These transactions are traceable and can be confirmed for long-term integrity.
Patients do not have any control over their data. It belongs to those who created the data. It is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and makes it hard for patients to find it when they are in need. These institutions have access to their health data, while the power over their well-being and finances is held by large, profit-oriented, centralized organizations. This information isn’t easily accessible to patients and those they wish it to be shared with.
Access to the blockchain is now possible for ancillary entities such as pharmacies or insurance companies. They can immediately access verified medical information. It saves energy and time spent searching for the right documents and waiting for their permission. Just give your permission. Researchers have instant access to vast databases of data, which allows them to grant consent by pressing a button. With the promise of small financial rewards, smart contracts could be used to entice patients into sharing their data on the blockchain-based platform. Smart contracts can be described as bits of code which may be used to execute predetermined functions, such as releasing money when certain conditions are met.
A lack of security is another problem with healthcare data. This information can be very lucrative, and it is easy to steal from older systems. Ransomware can take control of entire databases. It is possible to steal administrator information and then illegally gain access. Even though cybersecurity expenditures have increased over the years, hackers are still coming up with new tricks.
The blockchain will not keep all the data of patients. Only a very small number of transactions data is kept on the blockchain. The majority of data will remain on central servers unless decentralized storage is implemented. Although this is not a security threat to any of the previously mentioned utilities, further research is needed.
The blockchain is almost impossible to hack in terms of security. It is very safe to store data on the blockchain. Both the transaction and validity verification cannot be altered. These immutability features would not exist in data stored on central systems. The data stored on these servers is much safer if they can only be accessed via the blockchain’s cryptographic algorithm, and not through admin credentials or human errors.
Government and the entire healthcare sector recognize the value of an interoperable data-sharing system with security built in. If properly applied and refined, blockchain technology will provide the most effective solution possible for both individuals and institutions.