Medical technologies that are applied with ‘blockchain’ will draw attention during generations of Industry 4.0. It is expected that blockchain will be used in various areas such as issue of various documents with medical information and claim of fee-for-service health insurance.
Blockchain is an online ledger that publicly records information on transactions. New blocks have certified information about previous blocks and they are tied with ‘chains’.
Strengths of blockchain are security and safety. Because blockchain, which has information about entire transactions, is verified and stored separately into many nodes, it is practically impossible to forge or falsify blockchain. Security and safety were the reason why hospitals have yet to share and use 0i0nformation about patients that is stored within central servers. Medical laws and personal information protection laws are also obstacles. Most important thing is damage and harm that can be caused when one’s personal medical information is leaked. Because blockchain technology maintains original information and makes entire information public, it is a technology that can also be used for medical industries. It is difficult to hack into blockchain systems since information is possessed by many people at the same time.
Global businesses are currently carrying out respective R&D to introduce blockchain technology to medical field. IT businesses such as IBM and Google are looking to grab upper hands in this industry. IBM is currently developing a system that shares one’s medical information through blockchain-based nework. It is planning to innovate healthcare industry by applying advanced technologies such as Big Data and IoT (Internet of Things) to information on medical treatment that is owned by medical organizations. In 2017, IBM started developing a system with FDA that shares one’s medical information through blockchain-based network. IBM and FDA are looking for a way where one’s medical information can provide benefits for public health through blockchain technology.
Google’s Deepmind Health is working with NHS (National Health Service) from England to develop a technology that allows a patient to find out what is happening with his or her personal data in real-time. Google is also planning to introduce a new technology that follows a patient’s information in real-time by linking this technology with major university hospitals in England and NHS. This new technology encrypts one’s various medical data and records it automatically into blockchain.
Medicalchain, which is a company that provides medical record management service based on blockchain technology, recently decided to demonstrate blockchain-based patient management system with The Groves Medical Group from England. 30,000 patients and their families from The Groves Medical Group will receive medical services through Medicalchain’s blockchain platform. This is the first time British Government is allowing virtual currency payments by introducing blockchain to medical field. Patients can access to this platform and make payments through cryptocurrency.
South Korean startups have also developed blockchain platforms that are applied with medical information. Medibloc developed a platform for personal medical information based on quantum blockchain technology. This is the first example in South Korea that applies blockchain technology to a platform for medical information. Patients can notarize original copies of medical information such as height and weight or one’s record of medical treatment through this platform. Medical information is encrypted and stored in a decentralized area. This platform eliminates any inconvenience of receiving information on various examinations in a form of paper.
Medibloc focused on individuals instead of medical organizations. In the past, medical information was managed by South Korean Government that oversees health care system and hospitals. Medibloc receives personal information of a patient from a hospital in a form of an electronic document. It then uploads data onto its blockchain platform. Hospitals can avoid any unnecessary duplicate examinations through medical data of patients that are uploaded on Medibloc’s platform.
Kyung Hee University Dental Hospital is the first dental university hospital in South Korea to join hands with Medibloc and is planning to introduce its blockchain platform to dental comprehensive examination center that will be established this March.
CERTON along with 4Cgate, which specializes in medical information system, are planning to form a consortium for blockchain-based medical proof service and push for pilot projects. LG Uplus and PoC (Proof of Concept) are also pushing for pilot projects that will combine CERTON’s blockchain platform-based medical proof service and LG Uplus’ certified services.
Blockchain technology has an ability to implement comprehensive medical information manage systems. Patients can safely open their records, which are stored into distributed legers, by using their private keys from any place that has internet connection.
Blockchain technology will also be used for services for claiming fee-for-service health insurance and this will prevent patients from going through complicated insurance claim procedures. Kyobo Life Insurance is currently testing a service that automatically claims fee-for-service health insurance through blockchain. Ministry of Science and ICT and National Information Society Agency started ‘Blockchain-Based Fee-For-Service Health Insurance Automatic Claim Service (led by Kyobo Life Insurance)’ as part of pilot projects for blockchain to create foundation that will vitalize IoT (Internet of Things). This service is a system that automatically claims a claim for insurance and sends medical certificates. Members can show their intentions of claiming insurance whenever they are making medical examination fees at hospitals and they can select medical records that they want to send to their insurance companies through Smartphone applications to complete applications for claiming insurance.
Ministry of Science and ICT and National Information Society Agency are also planning to apply blockchain-based comprehensive certified technical system. Every step from insurance claim to payment will be recorded and managed by blockchain. Blockchain technology will be used to store one’s record of medical treatment and contracts online during a process of an insurance claim. Members, insurance companies, and medical organizations share certified information that is related to insurance claim through blockchain. When members of insurance are hospitalized and receive medical treatment, corresponding medical records are immediately sent to insurance companies through blockchain. Blockchain implements automatic insurance claim for patients by improving complicated application processes. It can also pay insurance money in real-time. Fact that claim process is recorded into blockchain and is made public is another strength of blockchain. This system is currently used by three hospitals. Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital, Sahmyook Medical Center, and The Catholic University of Korea St. Vincent’s Hospital are currently using this system for small insurance claims that are under $279 (300,000 KRW). Ministry of Science and ICT and National Information Society Agency are planning to expand this system to 10 hospitals in the future.
Ministry of Health and Welfare made an announcement this year of its plan to support R&D related to blockchain. “We have gathered opinions from experts who say that blockchain technology has a lot of strengths.” said Oh Sang-yoon who is the section chief for Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Medical Information Policy Section. |We are going to start social discussions that are related to application and investments for relevant R&D within this year.” However, there is a problem with participations by relevant organizations when blockchain is introduced to medical industry since there are tasks such as standardization of respective standards by hospitals and others that need to be done first. “We need to carefully look at pros and cons of development of various technologies such as blockchain since benefits from all of these technologies must go back to majority of people in South Korea.” said Section Chief Oh. “Since a patient’s personal information is an issue that needs to be approached carefully, we need to look at application of blockchain technology from that point of view.”
“Blockchain will make new compensation systems possible according to guarantee of original copies of medical records and insurance claim, transparency of information from clinical tests, enhancement of medical delivery system, and issue of coins.” said Professor Kim Joo-han of Seoul National University Medical School’s Medical Information Department. “Blockchain showed possibilities of issue and distribution of currency without financial organizations by overcoming cryptocurrency’s two weaknesses that are duplicate payments and single weak point. It can now be used widely even in medical field.”
Staff Reporter Jang, Yoonhyung |