Cybersecurity Management - Blockchain initiatives for electronic health records


  • Unmonitored access to identifiable information is the biggest challenge in electronic health records management.
  • Blockchain is possibly a solution to this problem, as holistically this can help to an extent by password-driven security and authentication.
  • Along with this, an additional element to this is the audit trail and time-stamped data with the help of which patient will get to know (with reason) who made what changes and when).
  • Blockchain-driven model is an asset to existing data governance models. Governments and the private sector are already undertaking blockchain initiatives

The biggest challenge in EHR is unmonitored access to identifiable information. Experts indicate that it is not very realistic and feasible to workout this challenge as current EHR models do not work in ideal ways, therefore, the current EHR infrastructure and system in many healthcare organizations can not ensure that patient data are not accessed by unauthorized users and may violate patient privacy norms.

Blockchain is possibly a solution to the challenge. In a broader view, this can help in solving the problem to an extent by password-driven security and authentication. An audit trail and time-stamped data (which allows the patient to know (with reason) who made what changes and when), is included in blockchain ledger.

Even Healthcare providers can see the patient’s data with their permission, but they are not required or expected to store the data. Thereby, a blockchain-based model is an epitome to existing data governance models.

Governments and the private sector are already undertaking blockchain initiatives . Public-private partnership (PPP) projects are also happening. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and IBM Watson Health teamed up to investigate the potential benefits of blockchain in healthcare.

Initial effort will focus on oncology-related data and a blockchain framework. FDA and IBM believe that blockchain can support the exchange of data from multiple sources on agreed to terms and for purposes which is first being approved and agreed by patient. They include EHRs, clinical trials, genomic data, and information gathered from new sources, such as mobile devices, wearables, and IoT devices.