Implementing Blockchains for Efficient Healthcare: A Systematic Review
Vazirani A., O’Donoghue O., BRINDLEY D., MEINERT EDWARD.
Background: The decentralised nature of sensitive health information can bring about situations where timely information is unavailable, worsening health outcomes. Furthermore, as patient involvement in healthcare increases, there is a growing need for patients to access and control their data. Blockchain is a secure decentralised online ledger that could be used to manage electronic health records efficiently, therefore with the potential to improve health outcomes by creating a conduit for interoperability. Objective: To perform a systematic review to assess the feasibility of Blockchain as a method of managing healthcare records efficiently. Methods: Reviewers identified studies via systematic searches of databases including Pubmed, Medline, Scopus, Embase, Proquest and Cochrane Library. Suitability for inclusion of each was assessed independently. Results: Of 71 included studies, the majority discuss potential benefits and limitations without evaluation of their effectiveness, although some systems were tested on live data. Conclusions: Blockchain could create a mechanism to manage access to electronic health records stored on the cloud. Using a Blockchain can increase interoperability whilst maintaining privacy and security of data. It contains inherent integrity and conforms to strict legal regulations. Increased interoperability would be beneficial for health outcomes. Although this technology is currently unfamiliar to most, investments into creating a sufficiently user-friendly interface and educating users on how best to take advantage of it would lead to improved health outcomes.