Might blockchain herald a new age of connected healthcare?

blockchain-nhsInterconnectivity of IT systems in healthcare has been an issue for as long as I can remember.  I wrote earlier this year about the potential for blockchain to make an impact in healthcare.

The prospect of using technologies such as blockchain in the NHS was first espoused in a report published earlier this year by the UK’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Mark Walport.

“In the NHS, the technology offers the potential to improve health care by improving and authenticating the delivery of services and by sharing records securely, according to exact rules,” it says.

Connected healthcare

This is especially important as healthcare becomes more connected.  The system in place in much of the developed world was not created with things like wearable data or genomics data in mind, much less connecting this data up with our personal computers, the systems of our doctors and even government agencies.

A recent report highlights the potential for blockchain to provide interoperability, integrity and security and portable user-owned data.

“Several innovative start-ups are combining blockchain technology expertise with healthcare industry experience to develop platforms and solutions. This market insight examines the foundations of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts, and presents profiles of start-ups in the industry,” it says.

The move towards blockchain makes sense as records cannot be updated without agreement from all of the stakeholders concerned with record.  What’s more, an accurate and reliable history for the record can be maintained without fear of tampering.

All of which promises patients a decentralized system complete with an auditable sequence of actions, all wrapped up in a nice and secure environment that they can have confidence in.

Suffice to say, much of the discussion around blockchain in healthcare is of the theoretical variety, although Philips Healthcare has recently opened a lab to test out blockchain in a controlled setting.

The lab hopes to provide the company with a technological, strategic and legal framework for the use of blockchain.  It will provide them with an environment to develop prototypes built both in-house and by selected partners.

Check out the video below to hear from Arno Laeven, head of the lab for Philips.

 

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