A Blockchain Framework for Patient-Centered Health Records and Exchange (HealthChain): Evaluation and Proof-of-Concept Study
Hylock, Ray Hales; Zeng, Xiaoming
Background: Blockchain has the potential to disrupt the current modes of patient data access, accumulation, contribution, exchange, and control. Using interoperability standards, smart contracts, and cryptographic identities, patients can securely exchange data with providers and regulate access. The resulting comprehensive, longitudinal medical records can significantly improve the cost and quality of patient care for individuals and populations alike. Objective: This work presents HealthChain, a novel patient-centered blockchain framework. The intent is to bolster patient engagement, data curation, and regulated dissemination of accumulated information in a secure, interoperable environment. A mixed-block blockchain is proposed to support immutable logging and redactable patient blocks. Patient data are generated and exchanged through Health Level-7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, allowing seamless transfer with compliant systems. In addition, patients receive cryptographic identities in the form of public and private key pairs. Public keys are stored in the blockchain and are suitable for securing and verifying transactions. Furthermore, the envisaged system uses proxy re-encryption (PRE) to share information through revocable, smart contracts, ensuring the preservation of privacy and confidentiality. Finally, several PRE improvements are offered to enhance performance and security. Methods: The framework was formulated to address key barriers to blockchain adoption in health care, namely, information security, interoperability, data integrity, identity validation, and scalability. It supports 16 configurations through the manipulation of 4 modes. An open-source, proof-of-concept tool was developed to evaluate the performance of the novel patient block components and system configurations. To demonstrate the utility of the proposed framework and evaluate resource consumption, extensive testing was performed on each of the 16 configurations over a variety of scenarios involving a variable number of existing and imported records. Results: The results indicate several clear high-performing, low-bandwidth configurations, although they are not the strongest cryptographically. Of the strongest models, one’s anticipated cumulative record size is shown to influence the selection. Although the most efficient algorithm is ultimately user specific, Advanced Encryption Standard–encrypted data with static keys, incremental server storage, and no additional server-side encryption are the fastest and least bandwidth intensive, whereas proxy re-encrypted data with dynamic keys, incremental server storage, and additional server-side encryption are the best performing of the strongest configurations. Conclusions: Blockchain is a potent and viable technology for patient-centered access to and exchange of health information. By integrating a structured, interoperable design with patient-accumulated and generated data shared through smart contracts into a universally accessible blockchain, HealthChain presents patients and providers with access to consistent and comprehensive medical records. Challenges addressed include data security, interoperability, block storage, and patient-administered data access, with several configurations emerging for further consideration regarding speed and security.
Hylock, Ray Hales, & Zeng, Xiaoming. (August 2019). A Blockchain Framework for Patient-Centered Health Records and Exchange (HealthChain): Evaluation and Proof-of-Concept Study. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INTERNET RESEARCH, (21:8), p.. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7843
Hylock, Ray Hales, and Zeng, Xiaoming. "A Blockchain Framework for Patient-Centered Health Records and Exchange (HealthChain): Evaluation and Proof-of-Concept Study". JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INTERNET RESEARCH. 21:8. (.), August 2019. August 10, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7843.
Hylock, Ray Hales and Zeng, Xiaoming, "A Blockchain Framework for Patient-Centered Health Records and Exchange (HealthChain): Evaluation and Proof-of-Concept Study," JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INTERNET RESEARCH 21, no. 8 (August 2019), http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7843 (accessed August 10, 2020).
Hylock, Ray Hales, Zeng, Xiaoming. A Blockchain Framework for Patient-Centered Health Records and Exchange (HealthChain): Evaluation and Proof-of-Concept Study. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INTERNET RESEARCH. August 2019; 21(8) . http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7843. Accessed August 10, 2020.
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