Leading U.S. Hospital to Create Blockchain for Patient Data Storage

Massachusetts General Hospital blockchain patient data storage

One of the leading hospitals in the U.S. has partnered with a blockchain firm to develop a blockchain capable of storing and sharing patient data, in what could amount to a significant deployment of the technology in health care.

Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the top five hospitals in the country, has announced an agreement with Korean startup MediBloc, with a view to exploring how blockchain tech could improve patient data handling.

Synho Do, director of the laboratory of medical imaging and computation at the hospital, said the partnership would allow them to test the potential of blockchain technology in improving data storage and sharing throughout the organization.

“In collaboration with MediBloc, we aim to explore potentials of blockchain technology to provide secure solutions for health information exchange, integrate health-care AI applications into the day-to-day clinical workflow, and support data sharing and labeling platform for machine learning model development.”

An eventual system could look to solve the current situation of different agencies collecting their own data, as well as making it possible to more effectively share sensitive patient data across a secure network.

Allen Wookyun Kho, founder and CEO at MediBloc, said this was a problem affecting patients in hospitals nationwide every day.

“Every day, when people go to hospitals, lots of information is created, but it’s difficult to transfer it from one hospital to another.”

As well as working on a platform for storing and sharing data, MediBloc is also working on tools for converting data from a variety of existing formats into a universal format, which would ultimately allow the data to interface with blockchain systems.

The network is in advanced testing, ahead of an expected rollout in the second quarter of 2019, along with several apps that will run on the new platform.

According to MediBloc’s founders, the blockchain structure could ultimately allow patients to monetize their individual medical data, selling information about symptoms and prescriptions to MediBloc, which can analyze the data on behalf of insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies.

The development is only the latest example of blockchain platforms being developed for applications in health care, with several similar systems already in the works.