How regulated blockchain can reinvent electronic health records (EHR)

Posted by L3COS Jun 24, 2020

blockchain health records

In healthcare, having the right information at the right time can mean the difference between life and death. That’s why electronic health records (EHR) are so important to medical treatments.

What is an electronic health record? An electronic health record is a digital copy of a patient’s medical history. This 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 far from perfect. Medical personnel rarely have all the medical data they need and patients have little control over their data.

health record system statistics

 

In light of this, there’s a need to host electronic health records on a regulated blockchain. How can regulated blockchain help build ideal electronic health records?

We’ll go through all the details in a moment. 

Current problems with electronic health records

As mentioned earlier, the problems with electronic health records have prompted a need for a blockchain-based system. What are some of these 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 have a centralised database, which means there’s a single point of failure. If there’s a breach of the database, patients’ data will likely be exposed to hackers who can misuse the information.

Another common problem patients encounter occurs when they relocate. If they have to change healthcare providers because of relocation, then they’re likely to lose most of their medical data.

Of course, their medical data is with their former provider, but their current physician is unable to access it. This can hamper the physician’s work as they only have a summary rather than a full view of the patient’s health status.

As a result of this problem, the health system is plagued by poor interoperability. With patient data scattered in many databases, it’s difficult for medical personnel to continue effective healthcare for a patient who was previously with another provider. 

What does a regulated blockchain-based electronic health record look like?

Even though regulated blockchain will host similar data that is present in current electronic health records, there are differences in how blockchain goes about keeping these records.

Rather than upload to a provider’s database, health data acquired from tests, scans and sensors are sent to a patient’s blockchain network for storage.

How do we ensure that a patient’s health data uploaded to the blockchain is genuine and valid? The regulated blockchain’s consensus mechanism ensures that a generally accepted trusted party will authenticate a patient’s health data.

For instance, L3COS has 3 consensus levels, which are delegated proof of stake (DPoS), proof of government (PoGVT) and proof of storage (PoST). This ensures better regulations and allows the right parties, such as a hospital or a patient’s physician, to authenticate the patient’s data.

three levels of consensus

Also, patients have 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.

Furthermore, regulated blockchain allows a patient to create smart contracts to define conditions that will trigger actions on the patient’s health records. For example, a smart contract might indicate that a patient’s physician or insurance company gets a notification once new electronic health data is uploaded to the patient’s blockchain.

Benefits of regulated blockchain-based electronic health records

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.

In this case, there’s little chance of a third party stealing their data for malicious objectives. As a result, patient data is more secure.

Further, regulated blockchain allows medical personnel to obtain real-time electronic health record updates whenever there’s new information about a patient. Medical personnel such as doctors and medical laboratory scientists can get timely vital information about a patient’s health.

Also, other parties such as a patient’s insurance company can get this information. This ensures all the relevant parties to a patient’s treatment can take the right action on time.

As the patients are in charge of their electronic health records, interoperability becomes easier for medical personnel. When a patient moves from one provider to another, their new provider can continue effective treatment as they have access to the patient’s full electronic health records.

Due to the vast amount of data in healthcare, one potential worry about hosting electronic health records on blockchain is scalability. Considering that Bitcoin has a transaction speed of 7 transactions per second and Ethereum has 15, this can cause a logjam.

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 easy for health organisations with vast amounts of data.  

Conclusion

Electronic health records have improved healthcare and made paper records a thing of the past. However, there are still lingering issues, such as security of patient data and 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.

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