Blockchains Security can Help Healthcare Records Stay Secure

Blockchain and digital currencies have been in the news a lot, primarily because of the volatility in the value of the currency. If, however, you remove the digital currency from the blockchain, you’re left with a new way to save health records in a super-secure environment. Blockchain could help advance patient health and wellness through more complete, mobile medical records acting as a single source of truth.
But then I got to thinking: How safe, really, is blockchain? It’s frequently held out as nearly impenetrable. But is it?
Are Bitcoin-related Hacks the Same as Blockchain Hacks? Not Really
The blockchain is most frequently associated with bitcoin, the digital currency. And hackers are certainly interested in breaking the blockchain to get access to bitcoin. At this point, however, hackers are more interested in invading the systems that make using bitcoin easy. These attacks aren’t of the blockchain itself, but of third-party companies that stored, for example, the users’ private keys, which gave them access to their bitcoin. The security of these companies may be compromised.
Some businesses are considering creating private blockchains, which could look more like traditional cloud storage than blockchain. (Bitcoin, however, is based on a public blockchain, also known as a distributed ledger, which makes it safer when it comes to hacking.) Private blockchains could leave users vulnerable to hacking if the third-party storing the information has weak security measures, including the ways security keys are stored. To some degree, this also defeats the entire purpose of having a blockchain, which is the way in which stored information is distributed across multiple systems.
Blockchain Security
With blockchain’s unique distributed system, getting at the information is difficult, perhaps impossible, without the right security key.
Codes are generated when portions of my health record, for instance, are placed in blocks. In addition, a timestamp is created to ensure users know when the block was created. Neither can be changed.
Every time a new block is created, the code from the previous block is included in the new block, which ensures that no one has altered the former record. Each block is verified for authenticity, by checking the code, before being added to the chain.
The chain linking each block to the next is the internet. When a hacker attempts to access a block through the internet, they’ll be thwarted by not having the correct security key. Another plus is that the information within blocks can’t be altered once it’s created.
When my physician needs to access my health information they’ll receive a security key, which grants access to the information. So the advantage with blockchain is definitely its distributed nature. Even if one block is compromised, the remaining blocks are safe. And the code changing on subsequent blocks is like a blaring emergency siren.
Healthcare, Blockchain Future
Already, 35% of health and life sciences companies say they’ll create a blockchain sometime in the near future. “Storing medical information directly on the blockchain ensures that the information is fully secured by the blockchain’s properties and is immediately viewable to those permissioned to access the chain,” according to a Deloitte report.
If the healthcare industry implements a public blockchain solution for medical records, payment is still an issue. All the computing power necessary to keep a blockchain alive costs money. For bitcoin, “miners” are paid in bitcoin. In the healthcare world, some suggest allowing researchers access to de-identified health information in exchange for the computing power needed to maintain the health records.
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