Blockchain to Be an Important Technology for Healthcare Industry

Mar 28, 2018

“Blockchain will be applied to financial and healthcare industries that emphasize data security. It is expected that blockchain will be used to determine authenticity of a patient’s information within healthcare industries.”
CIO Hwang Hee of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital gave a high score to excellent security of blockchain technology. He is expecting that blockchain technology will be used for South Korea’s healthcare industry starting from the second half of this year due to increased number of demands for security of medical information.
“Because blockchain technology fundamentally has an identity that cannot deny certain part of data, it is possible to check for falsification or forgery.” said CIO Hwang. “Number of demands for blockchain technology will be the highest within healthcare industries along with financial industries as a way to secure data security.”
Reason why there are so many demands for blockchain technology within healthcare industries is due to special characteristics of medical information. Not only does medical information contain one’s personal history, but it also has information on one’s illness, family, and finance. Social impact will be enormous if somehow medical information is leaked or forged. High level of importance of data calls for high demands for blockchain technology.
CIO Hwang is expecting that blockchain technology will be applied to South Korea’s medical industry starting from the second half of this year. Hospitals and healthcare industry have studied blockchain starting from the second half of last year. They finished studying its basic concepts and technologies and they are planning to apply blockchain to simple areas first.
“Blockchain will be the most effective and have the biggest impact in checking whether medical certificates or referrals are forged or falsified.” said CIO Hwang. “Reason being is because size of their data is relatively small and they have huge needs for blockchain from an aspect of security.”
Blockchain maintains security by making distributed chains with one data as the starting point. Every connected data needs to be falsified to attempt to falsify data at a particular point. Value of blockchain is very high for exchange of medical treatment information, monitoring of medical quality, and verification of medical records and referrals. It safely sends information and eliminates any possibilities of a patient’s information being forged or falsified.
However, there are some tasks that need to be solved before applying blockchain technology to healthcare industry. It takes significant time to apply blockchain to EMR (Electronic Medical Record) that has entire information about a patient. Processing time becomes slower due to increased amount of data.
“Although medical certificates only require few megabytes, EMR information requires hundreds of megabytes if it also has medical imagery information.” said CIO Hwang. “Because transaction (response to file) takes significant amount of time when large blocks are stacked on top of each other, it can lead to growing level of inconvenience for patients.”
Cost is another obstacle that needs to be solved. Cost to establish a system that will be simply be used to check verification of medical records or to send medical treatment information is relatively low. However, if blockchain’s coverage becomes wider, it is necessary to establish a next-generation system that will completely reorganize current information systems.
“Extensive systems need to be established to apply blockchain to entirety of EMR.” said CIO Hwang. “Hospitals lack capabilities to invest into IT and they are careful with applying blockchain proactively.”
Although there are different opinions about blockchain’s coverage, most of medical industry agrees on needs for blockchain technology. To increase security of medical information, medical industry needs to gain experiences and knowledge by gradually applying blockchain technology.
“Although blockchain is a popular topic, there are only few people from medical industries who completely understand blockchain.” said CIO Hwang. “South Korea needs to gain experiences in blockchain by slowly introducing blockchain to areas that can be easily applied with blockchain technology since other countries such as U.S. is applying blockchain technology to certain documents out of information exchange systems.”
Staff Reporter Jung, Yongcheol | jungyc@etnews.com

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