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Blockchain pilot for electronic health records kicks off in UK

MyClinic.com allows users to remotely consult a doctor

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A blockchain-powered service that aims to give patients more control over their medical records started a pilot study today, with a woman in London using the platform to access a video consultation with her GP.

The service – called MyClinic.com – has been developed by UK startup Medicalchain and private clinic chain Groves Medical Group to provide transparent exchange of medical records between doctors and their patients, using blockchain to ensure that the transfer is secure.

Its developers also claim it offers greater flexibility to patients over how and where they receive medical advice, and “how they control the use of their medical information.” The system enables users to consult a real doctor remotely for a small fee payable directly to the doctor.

There seems to be no limit to the number of applications for which blockchain is being applied, and the pharma industry is already piloting its use in the supply chain, seeing if it can be used to provide a transparent chain of custody for medicines as they move from manufacturer to patient.

As a reminder, blockchain – as it is deployed by Bitcoin – is a constantly-growing, publicly-accessible 'ledger' that records transactions in a tamper- and revision-proof way, creating a digital database of time-stamped records. Transactions are simultaneously registered by the decentralised network of computers that handle the blockchain, so the records are public, verifiable and harder to hack.

Other applications of blockchain don’t necessarily follow that model – there’s no standard definition for the technology – and some are not public or decentralised.

That has led to a vast number of blue-sky businesses springing up to offer blockchain-based services which only loosely resemble the Bitcoin model and sometimes seem to solve problems that don’t exist. One might ask for example if it is an advance or a gimmick for a washing machine to order its own detergent using a blockchain system – an idea envisaged by Samsung and IBM.

Health is one area where there does seem to be a cogent argument for its use if course, and protecting the integrity and transparency of electronic health records (EHRs) are an obvious application.

Medicalchain’s platform isn’t public of course, given the sensitive nature of electronic health records, but is decentralised and allows user to “give conditional access to different healthcare agents such as doctors, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacists and insurers to interact as they see fit.”

Medicalchain says the pilot will be used to gather feedback from patients and doctors that will be used to refine the system ahead of a wider launch.

According to the company, the ultimate aim is widespread, automatic integration of EHRs. “Currently, medical records are stored on different systems across GP practices and hospitals, often resulting in incomplete and sometimes conflicting information that pose risks such as misdiagnosis, delay in treatment or even death,” it says.

“Blockchain is perfectly suited to address this issue as any conflicting information is automatically flagged up and the blockchain ledger means historic data cannot be lost, thereby creating and protecting one clean and accurate version.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

5th October 2018

From: Healthcare

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