How to get your health info on the blockchain
Posted On August 9, 2021
In November, the government of California became the first state to enact an initiative that allows its residents to track their health information and make payments directly to the government.
That’s a major step toward making the system work across the country, but not everyone wants to get their health data stored in the cloud, or share it with anyone else.
The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Coinbase for allegedly abusing its position as a platform for exchanging data with third-party healthcare providers.
In this video, Recode’s Mike Isaac talks to health IT experts about how blockchain could help make that possible.
“We have seen this phenomenon in other countries, like Sweden, where the government has a central bank that has its own data centers that are owned and operated by a private entity,” says Daniele De Luca, VP of health information technology for Coinbase.
“So if you have a central government and you want to use that data, you can use the blockchain.
And the blockchain is a decentralized system, so there’s no one person running the blockchain.”
Health data on the Blockchain While the federal government has already made some moves toward making blockchain-based health data more transparent, it’s important to note that this will be a long-term process.
“There are still a lot of barriers in the way of blockchain being used,” says De Lucah.
“The first thing to understand is how blockchain works, so that we can understand the protocol and what the protocol does.”
In order to make blockchain data accessible to the general public, it has to be stored on a blockchain, which is a computer program that uses cryptography to securely store data.
“It’s like a paper trail,” De Lucacas says.
“But it’s digital, so it’s completely immutable.
And so, you don’t need to have a blockchain in order to use it.”
Blockchain-based Health Data The blockchain is one of the most secure systems in existence.
It’s backed by a digital ledger, and transactions are verified by the public’s participation.
“If you’re interested in using it for something that has real-world value, you need to be in control of the data,” DeLuca says.
For example, if you want your health data to be available to other researchers, it’ll need to first be validated by a third party, such as a government agency.
“You’ll want to get that third party’s approval before you share that data,” he says.
To make that happen, the blockchain uses a mathematical algorithm that takes into account both the size and complexity of the health data and the trustworthiness of the person or organization that created the ledger.
De Lucas says the algorithm is built on the idea that data should be immutable, so you can’t change it.
But blockchain isn’t limited to health data.
Health insurance companies can use it to create their own private, digital health records, which they can then share with customers.
For the most part, health data is private, and health providers can only view it for a limited amount of time.
The blockchain could be used to let people save up for an insurance plan, or give it away to friends, family members, or other people who are willing to pay.
The Benefits of Blockchain Health data can be stored securely, and even transferrable.
DeLucas says that even if the data is shared with other parties, it doesn’t have to be kept private.
“This is where the value of blockchain comes into play.
The data can easily be shared,” he explains.
“What if the company wants to sell it to you?
Or if you need it to be sold to a third-parties for a fee?
That’s the value that’s in there.
And then, there’s a third person who’s involved in that sale, because the third party knows what it is.
They can actually see what it’s worth, and they can pay that price.”
The Blockchain Doesn’t Always Have to be Safe Health data stored on blockchain is protected by a series of cryptographic layers.
There are two types of data that are protected by the blockchain: cryptographic keys and cryptographic hashes.
A cryptographic key is a code that allows the blockchain to verify that data has been sent.
It can be used for authentication or to protect data that’s shared with the public.
“A hash is just a string of numbers that encode a cryptographic hash of data.
It basically takes the data and creates a hash of the information that’s been sent,” De Solacas explains.
A hash is used to prevent data that isn’t encrypted from being used by anyone.
The key for a cryptographic key depends on the hash algorithm used, but the same thing applies to a hash.
“Hash algorithms are very, very, hard to break,” De Souci says.
You can’t just break a hash if you’re trying to use the hash as a key, he adds.
“In the blockchain, the hash has a very, extremely high probability of