4 notes on using blockchain for healthcare data

In an analysis titled Blockchain: Opportunities for health care, Deloitte details how blockchain can be used to revolutionize health information exchange.

Here are four things to know.

1. Blockchain is a permanent and shared record of online transactions or exchanges. Unlike a traditional database that is centrally located and maintained by one party, blockchain technology can be shared among a network of computers.

2. Blockchain uses cryptographic techniques to enable each user on the network to securely store, exchange and view information. These user interactions on the blockchain record are permanent and viewable by all the network's users, leading to an "immutable audit trail."

3. Blockchain can improve accountability, interoperability and security in data exchange — all of which are important goals for health data exchange. The report says a blockchain-powered HIE would make medical records more secure, while also removing unnecessary intermediaries.

4. In the long term, Deloitte says a nationwide blockchain network for electronic patient records can improve inefficiencies in the healthcare system. To facilitate this goal, a centralized department like HHS should establish a blockchain framework for early adopters and look into mapping the blockchain ecosystem, the report suggests.

"Blockchain technology creates unique opportunities to reduce complexity, enable trustless collaboration and create secure and immutable information," according to the report.

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