IBM, FDA to Help Advance Blockchain for Health Records Management

    Apr 11, 2017

    As reported on GCN.com, IBM Watson Health has announced a joint research initiative with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to leverage blockchain technology for the safer, more efficient exchange of health care data.

    A shared ledger technology that underpins the Bitcoin online currency, Blockchain is becoming a building block for how some industries will reshape the way they share, store, and secure information.

    The IBM/FDA partnership will soon explore the use of blockchain for exchanging data from e-medical records, clinical trials, genomics, mobile devices, wearables, and Internet-of-Things devices.

    According to an FDA official, blockchain has the potential to support the safe exchange of great volumes of data while ensuring privacy and integrity. Angela Stark, an FDA press officer, said, “These are critical features of a scalable data exchange ecosystem that can support high-quality research while safeguarding against breaches of sensitive patient-level data.”

    An IBM Watson Health statement said that “Blockchain technology provides a highly secure, decentralized framework for data sharing that will accelerate innovation throughout the industry.

    A 2016 Deloitte report supports such views, finding that blockchain technology could transform health care’s IT infrastructure and increase the security, privacy, and interoperability of health e-records by changing the way the organizations exchange the data.

    “The current state of health care records is disjointed and stovepiped due to a lack of common architectures and standards that would allow the safe transfer of sensitive information among stakeholders in the system,” said the Deloitte report. “This flow of information originating from the patient through the health care organization each time a service is performed does not need to stop at the individual organizational level.”

    The Washington Policy Brief is an online advisory that contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the records and information management profession. Further information about the issue is accessed by clicking on the link provided at the end of each summary.


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