Brianna White

Staff member
Jul 30, 2019
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One of the great challenges for the healthcare industry has always been patient privacy. Whether it’s a hospital setting, a physician’s office, or a child’s vaccination records required by a school, we are right to be cautious with sensitive medical data.

Historically, though, healthcare consumers have had little control over their personal medical records. These are often distributed across many fragmented systems and offices in our decentralized healthcare infrastructure. The result? Individuals often have little to no say in how their records are being used. There is no concept for the average consumer about where their information is stored, how it’s secured, or who else has access to it. The irony here is consumers must worry about others accessing their medical information they themselves do not have reliable access to!

When a consumer needs to request a record, sometimes it can result in having to jump through several hoops, especially when it comes to old records. Perhaps the consumer has moved to a new provider, perhaps the old provider has closed their office—both pose time-consuming problems for the patient. Beyond this, many records are never seen by the patients themselves, so how can they know the records exist except on blind faith? It’s not surprising many patients give up on tracking down old records and choose to “start fresh.”

Blockchain, however, can address many of our current concerns over privacy, security, and access through streamlined identity management. If we move medical records onto blockchain and tie them to an industry-wide patient identifier, it will allow individuals to finally exercise ownership over their own medical information. These private and public keys would serve as personal identifiers much in the same way that Bitcoin private keys allow ownership of Bitcoin wallets.

Not only would this allow consumers to exercise control over their records stored across a distributed network of healthcare providers and institutions, but the individual would be empowered to grant access to institutions as needed. The consumer could become the authority on what gets shared with whom!
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