Medicalchain has announced a partnership with London-based The Groves Medical Group. The medical practice supports over 30,000 registered patients and plans to offer telemedicine consultations.
The blockchain company plans for patients to take control over their electronic healthcare records (EHR) and move away from centralized storage by putting encrypted EHRs on a blockchain. Once the medical records are stored, various applications can connect to the blockchain.
The first two applications being developed are a doctor-to-patient telemedicine app and a health data marketplace. With a pilot starting in July 2018, Groves plans to enable their patients to have video consultations with a doctor via their phone. So the key difference compared to existing telemedicine apps is the ability to access the medical records, a significant advantage.
The second application is for the marketplace to give users control over whether their data is used in medical research.
Medicalchain uses two blockchains. The main blockchain is for the health records which uses Hyperledger Fabric to leverage permissioning thereby restricting access to the records. The health data is not stored directly on the blockchain, only a hashed (garbled) version is on the chain, so that privacy is maintained.
The second chain is Ethereum which is being used for the apps. A patient will pay for the Video medical consultation using MedTokens, and the transaction will be recorded on the blockchain.
The core concept of blockchain, medical records and portability is sound. John Hopkins University estimates that medical errors are the third biggest cause of death in the US after heart disease and cancer. Though not all those mistakes will relate to incomplete or unavailable medical records.
There are many potential viable applications that could connect to this kind of blockchain, insurance being one.
Medicalchain is not the only blockchain medical record application. And there are issues that need careful consideration for all EHR blockchains.
Given that identities could be deduced from Ethereum (with some work) it might be possible to figure out that someone had a telemedicine session with a specialist clinic. eg. one that specializes in sexually transmitted diseases.
Using special tokens for payment could limit the number of users willing to sign up for telemedicine, unless an extremely simple method to buy the tokens is built into the app.
The blockchain company raised $24m through an ICO of which more than $1m vested to the founders immediately. They could be hoping that the announcement of a partnership with Groves may persuade financial authorities that the tokens are a utility not a security, even though the pilot is not ready to launch.
The concept of leveraging blockchain for medical records is a promising one and in the near future Ledger Insights will be exploring the health space in some detail.