Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

How blockchain might help make health data secure

May 3, 2017 AT 10:01 PM

In recent weeks, we’ve offered perspectives from both sides of the debate over how blockchain technology might impact the healthcare sector.  Now, looking at the matter from a data security perspective, Robert Plant, an associate professor at the School of Business Administration at the University of Miami, says blockchain technology offers three distinct advantages for the healthcare industry.

First, he notes in a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, “unlike the ad hoc system in place today in healthcare, blockchain is designed to be distributed. By storing data across a network, it avoids the perils of data being stored in one location.”  In other words, if a healthcare organization suffers a massive data breach, the entire chain isn't compromised. 

Second, “blockchain is highly secure. The data in a block, namely our electronic patient record, can easily be stored in an encrypted form using public key cryptography and can be unlocked using a private key (password) that we as patients, owners of the transaction, possess. This key would make it impossible for unauthorized access to our data.”

Finally, there’s a matter of trust. Specifically, the mathematical equations that compose blockchain help preserve the integrity and quality of data across the network.

As Plant sees it, “these factors will combine to not only increase the security of the electronic patient record but to also ensure the data quality, and ultimately create a standard data entity for healthcare.”