Peter Nichol, a healthcare business and technology executive, believes that the Blockchain technology will lead the healthcare industry to a new era of technology and innovation with immutable ledgers and secure transfer of data.
Over the past few years, cryptographers and Blockchain startups have been obsessed with the execution and settlement of smart contracts. Since smart contracts are designed to establish unalterable agreements between two parties, they serve as a viable and practical method of transferring and exchanging data within a set framework.
Nichol, who has worked for the healthcare industry and several reputable organizations, firmly believes that the immutability and decentralized nature of the Blockchain technology will revolutionize the way radiology data is transferred and shared amongst physicians and radiologists.
Teleradiology & transmission of data
Teleradiology, which describes the process of transmitting radiological patient images such as X-rays, MRIs and CT scans, is often used in the modern healthcare industry to diagnose a variety of diseases for patients.
Radiologists, surgeons and physicians share, send and receive radiology reports to diagnose diseases and find applicable treatments for their patients.
However, existing systems of teleradiology data transmission based on traditional databases have proven to be inefficient and insecure, primarily due to the inability of most databases to process real-time data and transfer and guarantee full immutability.
The Blockchain technology, particularly decentralized Blockchain networks, can change the way MRI, CT and X-ray scans, amongst other radiology data sets, are passed around various parties by storing information on a public and transparent ledger.
“The primary benefit of Blockchain technologies, when applied to teleradiology, is “truth,” not “trust” by offering an integrity check on patient images. Yesterday, radiologists had to trust that images were accurate and unaltered — but they had no proof. Today, they have truth — immutable evidence that the images they are reading are unchanged.”
If the Bitcoin Blockchain is taken as an example, when a user makes a transaction, the payment is broadcasted to the network instantly. While it takes time for the transaction to be confirmed and verified, the transaction itself is sent to the public Blockchain network of Bitcoin instantaneously.
Teleradiology could operate on a Blockchain network like Bitcoin in the same way transactions are settled. Radiology reports and data can be stored and broadcasted to the public ledger of a Blockchain network for other radiologists and physicians to observe. This way, radiologists can guarantee full immutability of a patient’s data and ensure their data stays unaltered for the development of optimal treatment.