In healthcare, having the right information at the right time can mean the difference between life and death which is why electronic health records (EHR) are so important to medical treatments.
An electronic health record is a digital copy of a patient’s medical history and includes details such as medical treatments, laboratory test results, medication and allergies, immunisation status and more.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a steady growth in the adoption of electronic health record systems across countries, with a 46% global increase in the preceding 5 years.
However, the electronic health records we have today are still far from perfect. Medical personnel rarely have all the medical data they need to hand and patients have always had little, if any, control over their own data.
In light of this, there’s a pressing as economies digitalise to host electronic health records on a regulated blockchain.
We’ll go through all the details in a moment about a regulated blockchain can help keep safe electronic health records?
As mentioned above, the issues around keeping electronic health records have prompted the need for a blockchain-based solution, but let us look in a little more detail at those problems?
First, healthcare providers hold the right to patients’ data, meaning that patients have little control over who can access their medical data and how they use it.
Also, healthcare providers will often have access to a centralised database, which means there is an increased chance of a single point of failure such that if there’s a breach of the database, a patient’s data will likely be exposed to hackers who could misuse the information.
Another common problem that patients encounter occurs when they move house. If they have to change healthcare providers because of relocation, then in some healthcare systems it can take some time for their historical medical data to catch up with them.
Their medical data is still with their former provider, but their current physician is unable to access it which can hamper the new physician’s diagnoses and treatment.
This can be a common problem which can plague the overall interoperability of a healthcare system.
Rather than upload to a medical provider’s own database, healthcare data acquired from tests, scans and sensors and physicians’ notes can all be sent to a patient’s own blockchain network for storage.
The regulated blockchain’s consensus mechanism ensures that a widely accepted trusted party will authenticate a patient’s health data and ensure it is genuine and valid.
And by having 3 consensus levels, which are delegated proof of stake (DPoS), proof of government (PoGVT) and proof of storage (PoST) L3COS ensures there is better regulatory oversight of the data as well as allowing the correct parties, such as the hospital or a patient’s physician, to authenticate the patient’s data.
Also, patients will have both public and private keys to their blockchain-based health records. Therefore, they can give out public keys or tokens to provide access to a person or organisation and access their own data using their private key.
Furthermore, blockchain technology where the government maintains an oversight allows a patient to create smart contracts to define the times and conditions that will trigger an action on the patient’s health records. For example, a smart contract could indicate that a patient’s physician or insurance company gets a notification whenever any new electronic health data is uploaded onto the patient’s blockchain.
The inherent features of regulated blockchain lead to important benefits for healthcare. First, patients are in control of their health data and can determine who has access to it. There’s no chance of a third party stealing their data and as a result, patient data is more secure.
Further, regulated blockchain allows medical personnel to obtain real-time electronic health record updates as soon as there’s new information about a patient and doctors and medical laboratories can access timely vital information about the patient’s health.
Also, other parties such as the patient’s insurance company can get any of the authorised information. This ensures all the relevant parties to a patient’s treatment can take the right action and on time.
And since patients are in charge of their own electronic health records, interoperability becomes easier for medical personnel. When a patient moves from one provider to another, their new provider can continue with their effective treatment as they now have access to the patient’s full electronic health records.
And since nearly all of us have been ill at some point or another, the amount of healthcare data is vast, so one repeated worry about hosting electronic health records on blockchain is its scalability. It is well reported that Bitcoin has a transaction speed of 7 transactions per second and Ethereum has 15 and the use of wither would be problematic; but fortunately, L3COS, with its blockchain-based operating system, provides a solution to this potential issue. With its ability to execute over 50 000 transactions per second, scalability becomes is straightforward easy for healthcare organisations, even for those with vast amounts of data.
Electronic health records have begun to improve healthcare and already made paper records a thing of the past; however, there are still lingering issues, such as the security of patient data as well as the interoperability between health providers.
Fortunately, regulated blockchain can eliminate these issues and put patients in charge of their data for better healthcare. Contact us today to see how the L3COS blockchain-based operating system can be the ideal platform for electronic health records.