• Frank Makrides

Tamper Proof Records for the Medical Industry

For many, Bitcoin and blockchain are synonymous. By unpacking blockchain (the underlying technology of Bitcoin), we can understand the valuable properties that can be applied beyond Bitcoin. This is relevant when grappling with the role that blockchain can provide in managing sensitive data, especially in the healthcare and life sciences industries.

Immutability is arguably the most valuable property of blockchain, but what is immutability anyway? It is the simple property that once data is recorded in a blockchain, it can never be changed. In part, Immutability helps to solve the famous "Double-Spend Problem." In simpler terms, it ensures that when I send you 10 Bitcoin, I can't go back and change that amount nor can I can't erase the transaction entirely. Immutability facilitates trust between us (and every other participant in our network), because I can't go back to fraudulently cover my tracks. This is a level of security that is applicable to data in general.

Take a COVID-19 test result, for example. If such a test was tracked with blockchain, you could track which machine performed my test, know exactly when the test occurred, and have proof that these results haven't been manipulated. Ensuring that test results are accurate, unaltered, and traceable is a core component of helping the world return to a new normal.

What's the bigger picture here, you may be wondering? Let's stick with the COVID-19 test example. Currently, we have to trust expensive third parties to manage our own sensitive health data. The health system puts trust in these intermediaries to ensure that results are accessible and unalerted. With blockchain's immutability, I could prove irrefutably that my medical records have not been manipulated in any way, allowing insurance providers and hospitals to trust in the authenticity of my data. As a complete paradigm shift in healthcare, this type of system would eliminate the need for these expensive 3rd parties, allowing patients to truly "own" their data. This grants us more privacy and avoids the risk of large-scale data breaches in centralized systems.

Beyond cryptocurrencies and health data, where else do you think blockchain technology and its fundamental properties like immutability can play a big role?