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Privacy, Healthcare and The Blockchain
Article, Blockchain and IOT, Precision Medicine

Privacy, Healthcare and The Blockchain

Over 1.2 million terabytes of data is stored by the largest online storage and service providers. Consumers’ concerns about their privacy have reached an all-time high and many worry about who has access to it. The explosion of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is enabling us new and innovative ways to keep hackers and malicious companies away from our data for good.

The global pandemic has brought privacy concerns in healthcare to the top of our priority list.

According to a 2019 study in the US, 81% of Americans believe they have little/no control over the data companies collect and the same number say the potential risks of companies collecting data about them outweigh the benefits. Additionally, 79% are concerned about how companies use the data collected. 

Similar trends can be seen when it comes to healthcare data. However, some reports have found some consumers are much less opposed to their health data being shared anonymously for research. 

A report in the UK found that consumers are most concerned about certain types of sensitive patient data, such as mental and sexual health data. Some of the largest concerns consumers have include data security, accountability and data falling into “the wrong hands”.

These are of particular concern when consumers are asked about Electronic Health Records (EHR). 

Through a permissioned ledger, blockchain can empower the patient and allow them to access better, more precise healthcare. Blockchain enables consumers to be in control of who has access to their data whilst maintaining the validity and integrity of that data. 

Blockchain gives the user full control over their private data and this allows them to choose third parties they want to share their data with. With it being decentralized, their data isn’t controlled by a single entity meaning, no consumer can be banned, blocked or have their information sold without their permission. It also provided immutable timestamping where events are recorded and saved e.g. vaccination date for Covid-19. Blockchain has already been incorporated in some aspects of healthcare for example, back in January the NHS set up a programme with Hashgraph to monitor the temperature of the Covid-19 vaccine as it needs to be kept below a certain temperature while not being used.

Through a permissioned ledger, blockchain can empower the patient and allow them to access better, more precise healthcare. Blockchain enables consumers to be in control of who has access to their data whilst maintaining the validity and integrity of that data. 

The benefits of Blockchain:

Decentralisation offers consumers more control over their data. Data is not controlled by a single entity, for example, the NHS, meaning no consumer can be banned, blocked or have their data sold without their consent. 

Blockchain technology enables instant verification. We live in a global world and people are constantly moving. A patient’s credentials are instantly verifiable from anywhere via a blockchain.

Metadata (a set of data that describes and gives information about other data) attached to a transaction on the ledger cannot be tampered with enabling a secure record of information.

Timestamps for when events occurred are immutable meaning every user can be sure that the information they are seeing is true. For example, timestamps for vaccinations ensure patients get their second COVID-19 vaccine at the correct interval.

The blockchain is virtually unhackable. A hacker would need to hack into all the nodes and change the information simultaneously. This could mean controlling billions of dollars of resources in a network, something that is almost impossible.

coinmag

I first joined HLTH.network as an intern back in early 2021 and now operate as one of HLTH.network's operations managers. It is a great way to be a part of the digitalization of healthcare, and it is so important that we work towards a market with valuable patient-centered data. Every single person on the planet has a stake in healthcare, but not everyone has equal access. We are working to change that.

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