Data what extend the records can be

Data security means protecting digital data, such as those in a database,
from destructive forces and from the unwanted actions
of unauthorized users such as a cyber attack or a data
breach1.

 

Although
the proponent of blockchain technology stress on data security as the main
feature of the technology, recently this point has been questioned: there have
been two reported instances of the hacking in crypto currency world. The
contents of a digital wallet belonging to crypto currency company NiceHash,
which included potentially millions of dollars worth of customers’ bitcoin, was
stolen in a major security breach in 1st week of December 2017.2 Another breach happened
just a month earlier to this on Parity, a digital wallet popular with startups
collecting millions of dollars in fundraising. Around $162 million in the cryptocurrency
ether has been frozen after a novice hacker deleted a code library
needed to access funds being stored in some Parity digital wallets.3

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Thus,
there arises a primary concern regarding implementation of blockchain. It is
security of the data health records. These records are of utmost private and
sensitive in nature. The exponential increase hacking of healthcare databases
supports the fact that these health related data are valuable to many. It is
estimated that by first half of 2016, approximately 550 million records had
been stolen or lost.4

 

In
the interviews the panelist placed this risk under critical category.

 

” Security of not only
health records but clinical trial data and medical claims data is the primary
concern in implementation of this technology. There are concerns for data
leakage. And if this happens it would create havoc. ”

1.1.1     
Data
Control

 

In
addition to data security concern there is another risk, which cannot be
ignored. It is about rights of patient related to the release of data. Many
organizations across countries are now moving towards digitalizing the medical
records. This is giving rise to question whether and to what extend the records
can be shared with laboratories, hospitals, physicians and other medical facilities.

 

Advocates
of blockchain may say that requirement of private key of patients give patients
full control over their data. In other words, through private key patient gives
permission to third parties (doctors, payers, etc.) to access his/ her data.
The gravity of the concern can be explained with scenarios. First, what happens
when a patient is injured or harmed or unconscious and is not in the state to
provide his or her private key. In this case how will the data be provided to
third parties? To avoid such hindrance the patient might choose to share his or
her credentials with a representative. This leads to security breach as the
patient would not be the only one having access to his or her medical
information.

Second scenario is what if the patient forgets or loses the private key. The
entire medical information would be lost forever. It may be argued that system
can be built to retrieve the private key. This could also lead to security
breach.

1.1.2     
Financial
Impact

 

Blockchain
technology promises many advantages that cannot be ignored. But it is important
to understand the cost of implementing this technology. Weighing the advantages
against the financial impact will give the true picture of its effectiveness
including economic efficiency.

 

The
cost of implementation can be broken down into two parts – Capital Cost and
Operational Cost.  Capital Cost
investment could not only include procuring software and hardware but also cost
of training all the participants / parties involved in the cycle. Although, the
later cost is intangible in nature but has greater weightage in evaluation
matrix. Being sole participant using this technology would not be fruitful and
the amount invested might soon become sunk cost. Mr. Omar FOGLIADINI, CEO of
Suisse Life Science Group, Switzerland said, “when email system was introduced, users couldn’t have reaped
its benefits for being the sole participant in the process cycle”   

 

Operational
cost includes cost to be incurred to maintain the blockchain database
infinitely unlike traditional cloud based database. Further, each transaction
would be stored at distributed nodes i.e. same data being replicated at various
locations. Thus, the cost of storage storing a single data has multiplier
effect. Imagine the volume of data in case of medical records, clinical trials,
etc. Ever increasing data has direct impact on incremental increase in network
bandwidth.

1.1.3     
Lack
of understanding and presence of existing systems

 

As
of today the knowledge and experts for application of blockchain in healthcare
is very limited. Awareness, even if sometimes limited, is mostly in financial
sectors like banking, insurance, etc. Ms. Jennifer GEORGINO, Senior Editor Blockchain Healthcare Review, Georgia rated understanding of blockchain as the
main obstacle to adopting blockchain in healthcare industry. She also
stressed on lack of skilled experts in this domain.

 

Further, many organizations (most of them in
recent) have spent money and time on developing their existing systems through
which patient data is being managed presently. These data are mostly stored in
local databases and shared with multiple concerned parties based on
requirement. It would be challenging
for these organization to again invest time and money in developing a new
architecture and that too in technology, which is at this moment in very early
stage.

1.1.4     
Application
of Rules & Regulations

 

With
advancement in technology there rises need for development and evolution of
regulation & governance. Since data security and privacy is a matter of
concern, the governance development should outpace the technology
implementation. But this process might fall in vicious trap, with increased
demand for the implementation of the technology but lack of skilled experts who
can provide inputs for framing of rules & regulations.

 

Additionally,
blockchain involves multiple computers based in multiple countries. At the
moment it is unclear which is the main jurisdiction to comply with: in case of
any breach under which jurisdiction the accused party would be tried.

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_security
extracted on 14th Dec. 2017

2http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/nicehash-bitcoin-wallet-hacked-contents-stolen-in-security-breach-2017-12/

3http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/nicehash-bitcoin-wallet-hacked-contents-stolen-in-security-breach-2017-12/

4Source:
Break Level Index