The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Cybersecurity Program has published a slide deck on potential use cases for blockchain in healthcare. It includes a basic non-technical description of the fundamental features of blockchain, including a peer-to-peer decentralized network and distributed ledger, hashing, and a consensus mechanism. The distributed ledger is a record of transactions over time that documents transfer of ownership. A block is a unit of data that holds a collection of transactions which, together with other blocks arranged in a specific order, form a blockchain. A hash is the digital equivalent of a fingerprint, which identifies the block and its contents uniquely, and is irreversible. The first block in any blockchain is the genesis block; each subsequent block will contain the hash of the block before it. Hashes are a necessary but not sufficient mechanism to prevent tampering. Also needed is a consensus mechanism; that is, a methodology used to achieve agreement, trust and security across a decentralized network. The most common consensus mechanisms are proof of work and proof of stake. A mechanism such as proof of work slows down the creation of new blocks, making the cost of an attack greater than the reward.

The Cybersecurity Program discusses potential use cases for blockchain in healthcare, including supply chain transparency, electronic health records, smart contracts, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for remote patient monitoring. With regard to supply chain transparency, the use of blockchain could assure the authenticity, origin and supply chain of medical products across a worldwide marketplace. For example, blockchain could enable companies throughout the prescription drug supply chain to verify the authenticity of the product, expiration dates, and other information. In this example, the manufacturer would mark each drug with a unique code which would be stored in the blockchain. The wholesaler would verify the origin of the drug and add this transaction to the blockchain; the pharmacist would verify, adding this transaction to the blockchain; and the drug is dispensed to the patient in the final transaction.

View LinkedIn Profile

Shack Cookies Restrict

This website uses cookies to properly administer the site and improve your experience. Continuing to use this website indicates your acceptance. Please click "accept" to remove this message.