How to Secure Patient Data in Healthcare with Blockchain


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Tetiana Stoyko


One of the main features of the IT industry is constant improvement and innovative solutions. Despite the difference and variety of IT use cases, these ongoing upgrades and updates are one of a few common things, which can be met in all such software products.

Clearly, healthcare app development is not an exception. As a matter of fact, the health tech sphere is constantly looking for improvements and recently appeared technologies, which can be adopted to improve product quality, add new features, etc. Yet, due to the specifics of this field, to be more precise - access to personal information, including patient data, healthcare app security requirements are much higher than those, which are related to other types of applications.

In other words, healthcare app security needs to be as high as possible, i.e. always need new and new security measures and protocols. This is why, recently appeared blockchain networks become one of the most discussed and desirable software tools, which can significantly upscale medical records security, directly impacting healthcare app security as well, and giving one more answer to the question of how to keep healthcare projects secure.

Why Blockchain for Healthcare?

Before starting the debate on the potential role of Blockchain ledger technology in the Healthcare industry, let’s briefly discuss what is this “magical” technology.

Most of us are familiar with Blockchain thanks to Cryptocurrency. It appeared as a solution how to enable cryptocurrency storing and transferring in a safe and secure way. To make it simple, it is like a database, which gathers all the information, needed for transactions. Yet, unlike traditional databases, blockchain stores and shares data in a unique way, which is encrypted in its name.

Blockchain is a chain of data blocks, which exist independently, yet complement each other. So, to make the chain legit, you will need all blocks to be secure and unchanged. It is believed, that it is one of the most secure and safe ways of data transferring for now. Additionally, after the success of Cryptocurrency, various developers and other professionals decided to create new use cases for Blockchain in other industries. One such use case is Smart Contracts.

So, it seems, that Blockchain looks like an ideal solution for medical records security. It will create a safe storing and sharing environment to secure patient data in healthcare apps, still proposing multiple possible variations on how exactly to do so.

Blockchain App Security in Healthcare

Let’s start with the advantages of such implementation first. Obviously, most of them are related to healthcare app security. Yet, what exact features or functionality it can bring in this field, and are there any potential extra possible features?

Safe Electronic Health Records Storing

Decentralization%20to%20a%20distributed%20network.) is by far the most obvious and well-known advantage of any blockchain-based application. It is one of the major instruments, that allow blockchain staying so secure for even long periods of time. Plainly speaking, blockchain should be perceived as a network, that works with different data, rather than a database.

For instance, in a traditional online patient management system, all known data is secured in the same place. So, if hackers will gain an access to this patient management system, they will also gain an access to the medical history, even if it isn’t full.

However, if medical records security policy, as well as medical patient management system, are based on blockchain, then most data will be additionally encrypted and not stored in different places, i.e. even if ill-wishers will gain access to medical data, it will be very limited. Actually, it doesn’t mean, that all the data is spread all over the network or elsewhere. Instead, It can be stored in a specific shared database with a high level of security, from where it is shared with the requested party.

Thus, instead of giving all the responsibilities to the hospital or other medical institution, that has its own online patient management system, data can be stored on secured digital ledgers. As a result, there will be no place for speculation or unwarned changes, making patient data immutable.

Transparent Patient Data History

Furthermore, blockchain-driven healthcare app security also results in transparent sensitive patient records history, meaning that there is no way to somehow change personal information about the patient, before alerting them.

Most procedures, performed in blockchain systems are previously approved, giving no chance to implement changes without permission. Besides, it excludes the human factor, after all the data is shared in blocks and if the new block is suspicious and does not correspond with the rest of the chain, the transaction won’t happen. As a result, medical patient management systems with blockchain on board will be more transparent and show accurate information about the patients, leading to avoiding possible human-made mistakes.

Medical Hardware and Devices Support

Additionally, healthcare data management can become easier with the use of blockchain. Instead of implementing and combining various third-party software solutions, designed for the medical industry, it is possible to rearrange the whole infrastructure, including different aspects of MPSM and other connected devices for remote patient monitoring, making them accessible at the same application, which has an access to the blockchain.

In other words, it will not only make it possible to access different metrics and results from various medical databases, online patient management systems, medical devices for remote monitoring, etc but also ensure a high-security level of this structure.

Challenges of Healthcare Blockchain

Unfortunately, there are no perfect things. So, even if blockchain integration will definitely help to secure patient data in the Healthcare sector, there are some reasons why there are so few successful blockchain use cases in healthcare. So, what are they?

  • Development complexity is one of the most evident reasons. Unlike the traditional healthcare app development process, blockchain development is a lot more difficult and demanding. For instance, the number of niche-experienced developers, familiar with blockchain is extremely limited, compared to the variety of traditional software engineers. So, it might be difficult to find a dedicated team for your project.
  • It is expensive. due to the recency of the technology, and the narrow number of blockchain solutions, mixed with the complexity and some other specifics of this tech, blockchain-based healthcare app development will definitely be more costly.

However, these are not the most essential issues, which significantly narrow down the number of possible blockchain use cases in healthcare. Truth be told, the main issue is related to governmental regulations, laws, and other rules.

As we already mentioned, medical records security is very regulated due to its personal nature. Yet, despite different restrictions and high requirements, traditional healthcare app development has enough conditions to grow. So, there is a variety of different medical apps to look up to and plenty of diverse use cases.

Nevertheless, when it comes to blockchain application, the fact, that it is a new technology plays its role. For example, Smart Contracts, despite their convenience and high level of security, still have no actual legal power in most parts of the world. Therefore, if we will combine this fact with the huge number of different governmental restrictions, like GDPR for personal information, or HIPAA for the medical sphere, then the reason why there are no examples of using blockchain to secure patient data in healthcare.

Generally speaking, it is non-legal for now, i.e. there are guidelines on the possibilities to use such new technologies as Blockchain in Healthcare, or other highly-controlled industries.

The final challenge, which stops the process of creation of such regulations for now is the nature of decentralized networks for now. While traditional architecture is more hierarchical and centralized, which allows to manage and monitor all the changes and data transfers, the blockchain-based system is more chaotic and peer-to-peer. Thus, its main feature becomes the main challenge, when it comes to strictly regulated spheres.

End Line

Clearly, blockchain seems to be an ideal solution, which can help to secure patient data in healthcare and improve the general security of such apps. Nonetheless, for now, healthcare app development with the use of blockchain technologies is a high-risk task with multiple unknown variables.

The adoption of new laws and regulations - is a matter of time. Yet, it does not mean, that all we should do for now is simply wait. Instead, we can look for new and alternative solutions, as well as generate and test new concepts or ideas. One such potential alternative how to improve healthcare app security - is to use cloud computing for your software like AWS.

Here, at Incora, we understand the importance of healthcare data management security, so we always do our best in order to provide our clients with the most suited and finest software solutions. In spite of all the restrictions and challenges, which are commonly faced in various industries, including Healthcare, we highly believe, that it is always possible to find an out-of-box solution. Yet, to find such an alternative, it is worth considering the available resources and the rest of the software project context. In other words, to ensure high quality and choose the correct security policies, you will have to spend a lot of time, examining all the pros and cons.

For a better illustration of how we manage to embody such solutions, we encourage you to check out case studies, or directly contact us.

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How can blockchain be used to secure patient data in healthcare?

Blockchain can be used to securely store patient data by creating a tamper-proof and auditable record of every transaction involving patient data. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to alter or manipulate patient data without being detected.

What are the benefits of using blockchain to secure patient data in healthcare?

What are the challenges of using blockchain to secure patient data in healthcare?

How can healthcare organizations get started with using blockchain to secure patient data?

Can blockchain completely eliminate data breaches in healthcare?

What role do smart contracts play in securing patient data on a blockchain?

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