3 reasons blockchain is the answer to EHR interoperability and security

Trust, security and distributed design make blockchain ideal for healthcare.

In the ongoing debate over whether blockchain technology can be a cure-all for interoperability in healthcare, one business professor says trust, distribution and security make it the ideal solution.

Healthcare’s fragmented approach to data and the need to exchange patient information make it vulnerable to cyberattacks, Robert Plant, an associate professor at the School of Business Administration at the University of Miami, wrote in the Wall Street Journal. But blockchain technology offers three distinct advantages for the healthcare industry:

  • Distributed storage: Rather than storing data in a single location, blockchain is stored across a network. That means if a healthcare organization suffers a massive data breach, the entire chain isn't compromised. 
  • Password-protection: Blockchain technology requires a private key to grant access. Patients could allow access to trusted parties like physicians, but it would make unauthorized access nearly impossible, Plant writes.
  • Trust: The mathematical equations that compose blockchain help preserve the integrity and quality of data across the network.

Arguably the most buzzworthy technology within healthcare currently, blockchain has generated tremendous interest from the industry as a way to improve data sharing and security simultaneously.

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But researchers have also cautioned that the cryptography technology isn’t foolproof, and its coding structure could be susceptible to vulnerabilities. Still, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has shown interest in exploring blockchain, including a new application known as MedRec, developed by researchers at MIT Media Lab and pilot tested at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.