Blockchain for Personal Health Records
An All-Around Overview
Relying on 33 years of experience in software development, ScienceSoft builds reliable blockchain solutions for medical records.
Blockchain for Health Records: the Essence
When used for storage and exchange of medical records, blockchain technology ensures patient data security, integrity and availability for healthcare providers, as well as compliance with PHI-related regulations.
In 2021, the worldwide market of blockchain in healthcare was valued at $287.9 million with health data exchange being a key application of the technology in the industry. By 2028, healthcare blockchain is forecasted to reach $1.18 billion growing at a CAGR of 61.3%. The use of blockchain to store and maintain health records becomes increasingly popular due to data breaches concerns, regulatory pressure to establish secure storage of sensitive data, and the need to ensure patient data consistency.
A hospital blockchain network comprises several hospitals, clinics, labs, etc. A healthcare provider from one of the blockchain network facilities needs to add a patient health record (e.g., via EHR/EMR interface), this transaction should be endorsed by other blockchain network members. If the transaction is verified, a smart contract triggers the creation of a new health data block in the distributed ledger. Each immutable health record (a block) contains hashed data (data with a unique cryptographic identifier named a hash code) about the previous and the next block, thus ensuring patient data authenticity.
If a patient gets care in one of the blockchain network facilities but outside their usual hospital, the admitting healthcare facility will request access to the patient’s health records. The patient should authorize PHI sharing by entering a private ID into the patient authentication interface. If the ID is correct, the smart contract initiates patient health data sharing.
The blockchain solution can be integrated with a patient portal, a patient app, a telehealth app, a chronic disease management app, EHR, LIS, RIS, etc.
Electronic health records management and exchange
Healthcare providers use a medical blockchain solution to create and edit new patients’ health records and store them in a HIPAA-compliant way with no unsolicited data access and record changes. The solution enables secure access to patients’ health records for multiple healthcare providers and exchange of the records within the blockchain network.
Personal health records access (for patients)
Patients can access their health data anytime to monitor their health state, select a medical insurance plan, etc. If patients get care outside the blockchain network, they can access their data via the patient interface, download necessary records, and share them with a third-party healthcare provider to ensure informed health services.
Medical claims management
Immutable patient health records guarantee information authenticity and facilitate error-free medical insurance claim processing: fast and accurate claim validation, assessment, payment, disputes resolution.
Clinical research and trials
Healthcare organizations’ researchers can query the blockchain system storing health records during clinical research or trials. For the research, they can access only anonymized public patient information (e.g., age, gender, diagnosis) and analyze this data for population health insights. For clinical trials, they have access to the participants’ health data granted by the patients via the blockchain system.
Medical records creation and view
A care team member can view a record or initiate a blockchain record creation via the solution’s interface.
NB! The creation request should meet the validity requirements and be endorsed by blockchain nodes for the smart contract to trigger record creation in the ledger.
Tracking of health record changes
The blockchain solution stores the information on a creator of a new health record (a medical staff member’s name, position, etc.) and record creation time to ensure full data traceability and reliability (e.g., for clearinghouses and reimbursement purposes).
Health data hashing
To achieve health records immutability, the blockchain generates hash values when a new patient record is created.
View of the personal health data (for patients)
The blockchain solution for health records enables easy access to the personal data via patient interface, integrated patient portal, patient/telehealth app, etc.
Automated doctor referrals processing
Blockchain enables automated doctor referrals validation using smart contracts and patient appointment scheduling (via integration with a patient portal/app).
Storage of remote patient monitoring (RPM) records
In case of RPM integration, patient monitoring reports are automatically recorded in the blockchain system and included in a patient health record.
User authorization and data access verification
The blockchain solution for health records uses multi-factor authentication for system login and private ID-based authorization and action authentication.
To secure the data within the blockchain system and ensure HIPAA compliance, the solution employs health data encryption, role-based access management, fraud detection algorithms, etc.
Blockchain for Health Records: Success Story
MedRec Blockchain Health Records System
The MIT Media Lab and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center piloted a blockchain-based system MedRec to process electronic healthcare records. The system alerts the patients when data transactions are initiated and enables them to control the third-party access to their personal health records.
Based on ScienceSoft’s experience in blockchain and healthcare IT projects, we recommend considering these technologies for a blockchain solution for health records.
Use: to accelerate the development of a blockchain solution and ensure its code quality.
Blockchain cloud services
Use: to set and host the environment for the medical blockchain solution.
Use: to containerize modules of the blockchain solution, orchestrate the containers and simplify the development, testing, and implementation of blockchain software for health records.
Challenge: To collect and share health records, the medical blockchain solution should be seamlessly integrated with various healthcare IT systems.
Solution: We start healthcare blockchain projects by analyzing the required integration capabilities (e.g., with patient apps, EHR) and design APIs to ensure 100% interoperability with integrated software.
Challenge: Healthcare providers may be reluctant to adopt the blockchain solution for health records as it requires a good understanding of the system by the medical staff involved.
Solution: To shorten the user adoption time, ScienceSoft’s team develops user-friendly UI of the medical blockchain solution, designs an adoption training strategy for future users, and provides user software guidelines tailored to the needs of the medical staff, EMR technicians, patients.
Challenge: Blockchain implementation requires rather significant upfront investments.
Solution: ScienceSoft uses the consulting-first approach to design a blockchain health records system that truly answers business needs and minimize the risk of reworks, employs established DevOps and Agile practices to facilitate the development process, and suggests implementing an MVP with a set of key features first to get profit from a working blockchain solution early.
General cost factors
- The number and complexity of medical blockchain software features, user interfaces (e.g., for patients, doctors, EHR technicians), etc.
- The number and complexity of integrations with healthcare-related software (e.g., patient portals, laboratory information systems).
- Type of the blockchain network (private, consortium, hybrid).
- Blockchain solution performance and security requirements (including requirements to the system’s regulatory compliance).
- The required deliverable (PoC, MVP, a full-scale solution), which influences the duration of blockchain development.
- Security and compliance requirements.
Operational cost factors
- Usage of cloud services (e.g., for cloud hosting).
ScienceSoft is experienced in healthcare IT and blockchain-based decentralized apps and offers consulting and development services to help you launch blockchain software for personal health records.
Consulting services on blockchain for health records
What we do:
- Conceptualize and productize your idea of a medical blockchain solution.
- Help choose a fitting blockchain network type (private, public, consortium, hybrid).
- Design a system architecture and select a tech stack.
- Provide a detailed feature set for the solution.
- Plan integrations between a blockchain system and required healthcare software (e.g., EHR).
- Guide on HIPAA, HITECH compliance and provide medical blockchain security consulting services.
- Plan the blockchain system implementation project and draw up a risk management plan.
Development of a blockchain solution for health records
We take over:
- Conceptualization and productization of your idea of medical blockchain software for health records.
- Architecture design for the blockchain solution.
- Medical blockchain software development and quality assurance.
- Design of integration capabilities of the blockchain system and healthcare software (e.g., patient portal).
- HIPAA, HITECH compliance of the blockchain solution for health records.
- Support, maintenance, and evolution of blockchain software for health records (if required).
ScienceSoft is a US-headquartered international software consulting and development company with experience in healthcare IT since 2005. We help software product companies and healthcare providers implement blockchain technology for secure storage and transmission of personal health data and rely on our ISO 9001 certified quality management system during design, development and testing cooperation stages.