Expert tells Congress: Blockchain is not a cure-all for electronic health records

Newswire: Feb. 14, 2017.

Dateline: Washington.

Despite the significant growth in blockchain application to electronic records management, the technology is not a perfect replacement for existing electronic health record systems, a government expert told a congressional panel.

Chris Jaikaran, a policy analyst with the Government and Finance division of the Congressional Research Service, told lawmakers on Wednesday that it is not yet a complete replacement for existing systems.

In one common example, access to existing medical records maintained on legacy systems may be governed by a blockchain system, but in reality, anyone with legitimate access to that blockchain, which means some kind of identity, and it means patients have to take a more active role in managing that access.

Further complicating EHR management are federal and state privacy laws, even before one considers the limitations posed by “a lack of standards, data processing and storage,” Jaikaran said.

In short, blockchain technology may be a currently buzzing term for the electronic records management industry, but where government regulation is brought to bear, it is far from a cure-all solution. And layered access — where blockchain provides access to a record as opposed to being the record itself — means the underlying information still is vulnerable to an attacker or other security breaches.

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