What the US can learn from Estonia's electronic health records

Blockchain is the powerful and potentially game-changing data structure that underlies Bitcoin's digital payment system. Guardtime, a Netherlands-based security firm, is currently working with the country of Estonia to use a blockchain-based framework to keep patients' electronic health records safe.

Blockchain generates a digital record of electronic events that are shared between parties that can never be erased, creating a perfect history of all digital interaction.

"The unparalleled scale and frequency of the Keyless Signature Infrastructure blockchain give us the capability to maintain continuous real-time situational awareness into the integrity state of assets under our control," Margus Auväärt, head of the Estonian eHealth Foundation, said in a statement. "It enables us to react to any incidents immediately, before potentially larger-scale damages can occur."

Estonia's government has provided its citizens with a unique identity smartcard that links back to their EHR, according to a Business Insider report. The deal between the Estonian e-Health Authority and Guardtime will result in the securing of the nation's 1 million healthcare records, which can then be accessed remotely using the smartcards. 

"Every update to healthcare records and every access to healthcare records is registered in the blockchain," Guardtime CEO Mike Gault told Business Insider. "That makes it impossible for the government or doctors or anyone to cover up any changes to healthcare records and that's really powerful."

Blockchain runs off of a non-centralized database, and any data added to the network must be inspected by a majority of network members. Once there is an agreement to add data to the blockchain that data is encoded and can never be removed. Mr. Gault told Business Insider that Guardtime is currently contracted with the U.S. military, although he couldn't elaborate on what that deal entails at this time.

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