Blockchain technologies come with significant benefits. The decentralized structure of the blockchain allows organizations to share data in an environment where no one entity is totally in charge, so organizations can build trust with one another as information is exchanged and stored.
The nearly unalterable transaction records are encrypted from end to end, making it challenging for unauthorized use to occur. Because blockchain data is stored on multiple computers, it’s much harder to hack data than it is on traditional servers. Anonymized data, meanwhile, protects privacy—and all these benefits can occur at reduced costs and perhaps with enhanced speed.
More specific to the healthcare industry, blockchain technology can provide a comprehensive single source of accurate patient records that can be directly accessed by insurers. Patients can confirm information with no intermediary while healthcare organizations benefit from more advanced analytics.
Blockchain technology is in a state of continual innovation, which means it will continue to improve. Having said that, no technology is perfect. Because healthcare organizations will increasingly use blockchain technologies to store and judiciously share patient records, it’s therefore important to also recognize today’s blockchain risks. Doing so allows entities to manage the levels and types of risk appropriately.
Data Privacy Risks
The World Economic Forum provides a checklist of potential risk categories to explore and mitigate. Of particular relevance to healthcare organizations, it’s important to carefully examine any data privacy risks to ensure that the blockchain-based system being used protects personally identifiable information (PII). Be clear about application controls across the lifecycle of data: from creation to collection, and from storage to usage, sharing, and transferring. Make sure, too, that the blockchain technology has the proper levels of data encryption standards.
When sharing data with countries in the European Union (EU), take the “right to be forgotten” privacy law into account. The privacy law, as the name implies, permits the removal of some data while one of the blockchain’s definitive features is the perpetual inclusion of collected data. These two philosophies are in direct contradiction with one another, and it will likely take legal wrangling to satisfactorily solve the conundrum.
This concern isn’t necessarily limited to the EU, either. The U.S. Congress has a bill with bipartisan support—H.R. 8152. This American Data Privacy and Protection Act, if passed, would give all Americans the right to access, correct, or delete their data. This is already part of the legal framework in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia.
The World Economic Forum also notes risks related to integration. Before using a blockchain-based system in your organization, it’s important to ensure that any “mission-critical legacy systems” you’re using will seamlessly integrate with any new technology you’ll use. To verify this, integration testing must be made at both the blockchain consortium and your participating organization. Be prepared to address blockchain data architecture when determining how well your enterprise solutions will feed into the blockchain. Is there a misalignment? If so, can it be reasonably and satisfactorily addressed?
Smart Contract Considerations
Smart contracts are coded agreements between participants that are stored on a blockchain. When predetermined conditions occur, the smart contract is typically automatically deployed without the role of an intermediary. This can seamlessly automate workflows without the time commitment of an intermediary, triggering the agreement’s execution.
Smart contracts clearly come with key benefits as the system causes all participants to agree on data formatting and processing. The only way a manual override can occur is if everyone agrees to the change. That said, smart contracts are fairly new—which means that smart contract code-scanning tools are also quite new.
During this stage of innovation and growth, some smart contracts are still being deployed without a security audit, TechTarget.com shares. Improvements have already occurred after “security incidents,” which have included code audits, new secret keys being provided, pre-deployment, and so forth.
Your Software Age
As you’re beginning to use or increasing the usage of cutting-edge solutions, such as blockchain technology, it’s important to make sure that the software you’re using is fully up to date. As TechTarget notes, “anything that’s been around more than a year or two is basically a Stone Age tool in terms of change velocity and improvements.” Fortunately, experts in our healthcare IT consulting network can help.
As technological challenges are being addressed, blockchains will become even more seamless and secure to use. That said, as 101Blockchains.com points out, human-related risks will still remain. After all, even with completely decentralized systems, human interaction remains a cog in the wheel. This is also an area where our professional consultants can help your healthcare organization.
Healthcare IT Services
Today’s technology is truly moving at lightning speed. As you’re focusing on providing the best healthcare services possible, it can be challenging to also explore, experiment with, and engage with newer technologies. Your IT team may well be involved in other crucial projects—which is why HealthTECH Resources provides the healthcare IT consulting services you need to protect your technology and benefit from the best systems available today. In fact, our experts also keep a close eye on the technologies of tomorrow so that, when the time comes, they’ll be prepared to assist your healthcare organization.
Contact HealthTECH Resource for Healthcare IT Solutions
As blockchain risks are further mitigated, this technology will continue to become more integrated with electronic health records—and HealthTECH Resources has the EHR consulting experts that can provide healthcare IT services and will work collaboratively with your in-house IT team to provide the best technological solutions possible. We’ll continue to enhance our network and services to ensure that, when your organization needs to supplement its in-house staff, we’ll have the solutions you need. This includes experts with blockchain expertise as well as other technologies; no matter the specifics, we’ll quickly and seamlessly augment your staff.
If you’re ready to discuss healthcare IT solutions, please contact us online or call us at (602) 903-7961. Your healthcare organization will benefit from our 20-plus years of experience along with our sole focus on healthcare IT.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.