Blockchain : An opportunity to address many complex challenges in Healthcare

May 26, 2018





In today’s digital world, different systems interact with each other for data and information exchange. We expect each interaction / transaction between the systems to be secure and reliable. Blockchain is a new technology that promises an efficient, cost-effective, reliable, and secure system for conducting and recording any transaction without the need of middleman.


A Blockchain database is a distributed database that records and stores transaction data in the form of time stamped “Blocks” linked to each other in such a way that no one can alter any transaction data. Members of the Blockchain network who validate the transactions are called nodes. Blockchain technology allows different types of nodes to enter Blockchain Network using specialized software such as Ethereum performing different functions Mining nodes in the blockchain network will be assigned a secret private key and a public key pair. Public key acts as “Public Address” which is visible to all participants. Private and Public key pair is cryptographically linked such that identification is possible in only one direction using The private key.


A message which is encrypted using a private key can only be read by any node with a public key which is linked to the private key, thus limiting the number of users to access or read an encrypted message or data. Any action on blockchain is a function of network, so to alter any transaction data the hacker should modify the same data in all the nodes in the network. It basically means hacking into all the systems in the network at a time, which is practically impossible to do.


Blockchain is consensus- based; every transaction needs approval from more than half of the participants or nodes before execution. Every transaction in blockchain is public but access to content of each transaction can be limited or restricted based on the sensitivity of the transaction. Today blockchain is finding applications in every field. like finance, healthcare, economics, legal, etc. Some examples from healthcare sector use cases where blockchain can be used are: EHRs, drug traceability from manufacturer to consumer, clinical trials to eliminate fraudulent data modifications and interoperability 


Application of Blockchain in Healthcare 


Blockchain with its distributed ledger technology has captured the markets attention for its data handling capabilities with respect to decentralization and security. With its relatively successful implementation in the financial domain, various industries are now realizing its benefits and are exploring the potential of blockchain in their respective domains. Healthcare is one such industry looking at unlocking the benefits of blockchain. Several opportunities exist in healthcare wherein blockchain can help improve interoperability and privacy of patient health data. Some of the important healthcare applications are discussed in this article.


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Blockchain technology is an emerging technology and has a huge potential not just to impact few industries but it can change the way businesses are done. The adoption of blockchain technology in healthcare has started and we can expect to have commercial blockchain solutions in the market in near future. Most of the healthcare use cases for blockchain are intended to provide secure and integrated care to the patients.


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