Blockchain & Cryptocurrency , Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Blockchain's Biggest Potential in Healthcare

Attorney Steven Teppler Discusses the Technology's Security Pros and Cons
Blockchain's Biggest Potential in Healthcare
Attorney Steven Teppler of the law firm Mandelbaum Salsburg

Where is the greatest potential for the implementation of blockchain in healthcare?

"What we're seeing in terms of real applications - outside the whole morass of cryptocurrency types of offerings - are auditing and portability capabilities that make it easier for ... patients to access and hold onto their most current records without carrying around a file cabinet," says attorney Steven Teppler of the law firm Mandelbaum Salsburg.

And for organizations that handle and manage health records, blockchain, a distributed ledger technology, offers "an easier way to facilitate both the generation, the transmission, and the security of the records," Teppler says in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

Pros and Cons

But as with most technologies, there are security pros and cons for the use of blockchain in healthcare, he notes.

"The security pros for blockchain are that once a block is created, it can't be undetectably altered," he says. "That means that whatever information is associated with it, meaning an event or the time, and the content associated with it ... is not alterable and is reliable as long as the cryptography, the encryption strength, the algorithm remains viable."

As for the cons, "those are pretty simple but hard to realize to the extent that this goes to the very anchor of trust in the beginning of the blockchain: The initiator of the blockchain has to have a degree of trust built into the system from the onset. And if you don't have that trust anchor ... you call into play the accuracy, validity or trustworthiness of the entire blockchain, the blocks that follow," he says.

In the interview (see audio link below photo), Teppler also discusses:

  • Data interoperability issues involving blockchain;
  • Compliance considerations for blockchain;
  • Security advice for healthcare sector entities planning to pilot blockchain implementations.

Teppler leads the electronic discovery and technology-based litigation practice at the law firm Mandelbaum Salsburg P.C. He's the co-chair of the American Bar Association's IoT Committee; a member of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Electronic Discovery Pilot Program; a founder and co-chair of the American Bar Association's IoT National Institute as well as the American Bar Association's National Institute on Electronic Discovery and Information Governance; and a contributing author of the ANSI X9F4 trusted timestamp guideline standards for the financial industry.

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