Secure data exchange and integration is essential in medical informatics as it enables and accelerates evidence based medicine. Therefore we are very interested in related topics. Last October we invited Lucas Antelo as an external speaker. During his talk he presented the outcome of his bachelor thesis “Secure Data Exchange Using Distributed Ledger Technologies”.
Lucas studied medicine at University Hospital Zurich followed by a computer science degree at Freie Universität Berlin.
In the German healthcare sector, data are exchanged among patients, healthcare service providers and facilities, insurance companies as well as private and public institutions for services, research and billing. For the majority of these interactions, paper remains the de facto standard and costs all participants time, resources and money. Today, people are mobile and move more frequently from one city to another, where they usually seek healthcare related services. Patients and healthcare service providers possess a fragmented medical history, which is spread among many different locations. Consequently, healthcare service providers encounter difficulties concerning how to deliver the best possible treatment based on the incomplete information provided by the client during each visit. This impedes the healthcare system ability to be efficient and cost effective. Distributed ledger technologies (DLT) promise to solve this problem and consequently reduce time, resources and energy for the exchange of data. In recent years, new DLT solutions emerged that suit specific business use cases such as finance, supply chains and healthcare, which facilitate the adoption of this novel technology. In this thesis, the respective laws, regulations, data and processes in the healthcare industry are analyzed. In addition, a requirement analysis based on interviews with a health insurance company, two clients and two healthcare service providers are performed to build the foundation for the study of suitable DLT solutions in the healthcare industry. The thesis concludes that Hyperledger Fabric (HLF), with its modular architecture, fulfills the majority of the requirements as well as laws and regulations. This shows that HLF solves inherent problems found in the healthcare industry. This technology implements access control lists for data access, transactions, and moreover, allows the creation of software programs, known as chaincode, to automate secure data exchange procedures. This thesis results in the creation of a blueprint and a prototype as a data exchange grid for the healthcare industry. The prototype uses a three-tier software architecture with HLF as the main data layer and a modular web application as the logic layer using NodeJS.
You can find the full thesis here: Secure Data Exchange Using Distributed Ledger Technologies