Imagine a life where you go to a new hospital or a clinic you don’t have to answer the same questions over and over about your medical history or all of the medications you take. What if all your medical health records were saved in one place and you can provide access to any doctor, pharmacist, or clinician? The blockchain concept can make all the health data saved in one place. According to Wikipedia, blockchain means” a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data.”
To simplify, every time you visit the doctor, the doctor will ask for your permission to enter your health data that will be discussed during the visit into a blockchain, for example: medications that have been prescribed during the visit. All the health data that has been added along the way would be saved and maintained by a network of computers and accessible to those who have the software.
According to MIT Technology Review, John Halamka, Chief Information Officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says, “There are 26 different electronic health records in the city of Boston each written in a different language for representing and sharing data”. Thus, the data is scattered all over departments, hospitals and clinics, which make it less accessible. Having critical data less accessible put us through difficult situations when you either end up by losing more money or someone’s life. The blockchain concept is the only solution for having all the critical health data gathered into one place with an easy access whenever a patient needs it.
Having all medical data in a blockchain will allow the patient and physician several benefits. First, an easy access for health staff as everything will be saved directly during each visit. Second, having all information secured in one place. Third, saving patient and physician time by being able to skip repeating questions. While blockchain may still be a fairly new concept, it will be everywhere in a few years whether in a hospital setting or somewhere else.
Written by Sarah Balobid and Margarita Shquina, BS
Margarita is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Informatics, MCPHS University; Sarah is still attending the program.