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Blockchain Technology and Patient Records: Is it secure?

Blockchain Technology and Patient Records: Is it secure?

Blockchain technology helps make data management more secure, transparent, and fair. Can you think of any other setting where an individual pays for a service but does not own what they have paid for? Patient data is the cornerstone of healthcare, yet individuals have paid for care services and have no say over how their health information may be used or distributed.

Healthcare records are predominantly owned and managed by third parties, for example, governments or private providers. This centralised control over patient records means that there’s little or slow sharing, with no system at present with the ability to provide patients’ records quickly.

Whereas these data custodians benefit from holding this valuable data (selling this on for data research, for example), it is recorded that 1/8 patients have had their data stolen[i], and it is worrying that this number seems to be on the rise. Most of these data breaches were used for fraudulent activities, including prescription filling.

Patients are asked to be more “vigilant[ii]” in keeping track of personal data: but how can they do this when they do not own, manage, or control their own records?

This is where blockchain technology comes in. Blockchain is often associated with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, though this can be used for patient records too. The design of the blockchain is to enable data sharing in a secure and tamper-proof way and where everything is recorded.

What is a blockchain? 

The simplest way to describe a blockchain is to think of data storage like building blocks: a new entry is a new brick, and over time, a patient record will host many bricks. A patients’ record will host a multitude of bricks, all with a unique and private key for entry; thus, data is impenetrable from deliberate attacks[iii].

What is a smart contract?

Fraudulent prescription filling is a thing of the past with smart contracts. A smart contract is a collection of code that automatically runs in the background of the blockchain when certain conditions are met. In conjunction with patient records on the blockchain, a smart contract executes an action – such as an order of a prescription – without any other involvement from a person or programme. This prevents the over-prescription of medication and fraudulent access to drugs.

The ELARA NFT

The ELARA NFT blockchain is decentralised (not owned or managed by a third party), offering complete control of its contents to the individual, allowing for transparency where security is concerned. Medical care providers (such as general practitioners) can contribute information about the patient’s medical care via the Health-Connect platform enabling the individual to own an entire digital ledger of their health history.

Patients would be able to choose which doctors can see the data, what data should be shared and decide who should be allowed access to it from anywhere in the world.

How is ELARA ensuring security?

ELARA is taking security to the next level. Alongside the security certification required as standard, ELARA will be hosting a Hack-a-Thon where we’ll be inviting the best and brightest minds from across the globe and challenging them to hack our blockchain. Individuals will be set several challenges, focused on hacking our blockchain and the partner system Health-Connect.

Summary

The centralised ownership of patient record data is outdated. The individual has zero control, and yet, data is being used or stolen without their knowledge.

At ELARA, we believe the patient should be at the heart of care, and to ensure that their data is safe and secure, we are utilising a combination of blockchain technology and smart contracts. Blockchain technology isn’t new and has been proven time and time again as being incredibly difficult to hack. Every ‘brick’ (or patient note) added is separate from the last, all encrypted differently.

With smart contracts, patient records are more secure than being owned by third-party suppliers. This decentralised approach – empowering the individuals to control their personal information – allows for privacy and security. Only the patient can decide who can see their data and when, without any delay. For the first time, the patient dictates how they manage their own record.

 

 [i] Accenture< 13% of Consumers in England Have Had Their Healthcare Data Breached | Accenture

[ii] Accenture< 13% of Consumers in England Have Had Their Healthcare Data Breached | Accenture

[iii] Frontiers: Frontiers | Blockchain Security as “People Security”: Applying Sociotechnical Security to Blockchain Technology | Computer Science (frontiersin.org)

ELARA
Adam Burrage

Adam Burrage

Blockchain Technology and Patient Records: Is it secure?

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