Blockchain and healthcare: what will change
9 November 2020 | Written by Melissa D'Ambrosio
Blockchain is the innovative technology behind the now famous world of Bitcoin. Its native area is therefore the financial one but by its nature the blockchain finds applications in various other areas, making the flow of data more secure, immediate and effective.
As the name suggests, the blockchain is a chain of blocks. The blocks contain a certain amount of data, but the interesting thing is that all the blocks are “closed” every ten minutes or uniquely encrypted thanks to the cryptographic function of Hash. Thus, cryptographic keys are obtained which precisely represent data but which do not allow to trace them.
Therefore, by its very nature, the blockchain is immutable and represents a shared data system – thanks to peer-to-peer control – but not modifiable and therefore extremely secure. This means that this particular technology finds application in various categories: from the exchange of bitcoins, to food supply chains, to health data. To find out more, I recommend reading the article “When the Blockchain will enter our homes”
Why does health care need it? One of the greatest deficits of the health system (especially the Italian one) is the exchange of data from one affiliated facility to another and therefore the possibility of immediately reconstructing the patient’s clinical history. , often forced to repeat exams already faced and to meticulously keep every prescription, which on health facilities. Through the blockchain it is possible to securely trace the patient’s identity, any previous prescription, all his clinical history and any other important data: analysis, CT scan, MRI. In other words, we can transfer electronic health records in a secure, immediate and accessible way.
Furthermore, thanks to cryptography all information is protected and the current tools – not as effective as the blockchain – used to guarantee the privacy of data represented by two procedures would be surpassed: anonymization (not always effective, since it could be traced back to the interested party crossing different sources) and the generalization according to which a precise datum, for example age, is approximated to a generic one.
Furthermore, the immutability and the guaranteed traceability would allow to verify the veracity of some clinical information and to avoid invalidity certifications, and false medical reports and the implementation of incorrect health services.
Blockchain in synergy with AI. The management of the amount of data of the health system can be useful and advantageous also for other aspects: in fact it would be possible, through AI, to exploit them to develop systems useful in the prevention, diagnosis and response to drugs of groups of people exhibiting similar organic responses and thus accelerating medical progress towards personalized medicine.
Covid-19: safe tracking and sanitation with the blockchain. Just as the blockchain validates some food production chains, in the same way it can be exploited in this historical moment to validate and track the sanitation of environments.
In this sense, B2Lab has created a Certified Sanification Digital Tracking Service which takes the name of Sanistory. As the official website states, the service allows you to read the information on interventions and sanitizations carried out in any type of environment using QRCode, that is: the owner of an activity uploads the certificates, forms and protocols of the certification and the customer , by scanning the QRCode, he can freely view them and be sure that health protocols have been respected.
My Health my data. Another important project in this sense is My Healt My Data (which literally means my health my data). This is a system that guarantees the visibility of the data to the entire network concerned and limits its fraudulent use, through the possibility of granting, denying or revoking access to it according to your preferences. This allows patients to share their data anonymously, and ensures its storage and organization among multiple individuals. The project was funded by the European Union.
The Blockchain is already changing the way of exchanging, storing and securing immense amounts of data. In healthcare, the change can be truly remarkable – and it will be – thanks to the use of these technologies. To learn more about the topic, you can click here.