Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH) has launched a healthcare platform using blockchain technology to improve patient referral services and integrate individual healthcare networks so that patients have easier access to their medical records.
Launched on Thursday, the Healthcare Blockchain Platform was developed as a one-stop referral and long-term care service in support of the government's Hierarchical Medical System policy, TMUH said in a statement.
The platform, formed with the collaboration of more than 100 community-based clinics, uses blockchain technology to address "common pain points" in healthcare, including the physician referral process, transfer of data between medical institutions, and personal patient portals, the hospital said.
On the platform patients "have a complete set of all their medical records, including high-resolution medical images, lab test results, and clinical and health exam information," it added.
"Using smart contracts, other hospitals and clinics can request and authorize patient record sharing -- easily and securely," it said.
Chang Shy-shin (張詩鑫), head of TMUH's Department of Preventive and Community Medicine, explained that currently, nurses at referral counters around the hospital assist patients seeking referrals.
The Healthcare Blockchain Platform allows patients to log in with their personal password using an application on their mobile devices and make the same request, Chang said.
A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography.
TMUH superintendent Chen Ray-jade (陳瑞杰) said blockchain technology is not only able to combine electronic medical records with electronic health records from different hospitals and clinics, it also incorporates the additional security feature of notification and consent before any transfer takes place.
Chen said the technology will minimize the risk of security breaches thanks to the decentralized nature of blockchain. Moreover, patients will no longer have to go through the tedious process of inter-hospital transfers, he added.
Physician Wang Yao-ting (王曜庭) at Zhuang Jing Clinic, a community-based clinic in Taipei's Xinyi District, praised the Healthcare Blockchain Platform for its improvement of the patient referrals process.
In addition, with access to the complete medical and health data of a referred patient through blockchains, doctors have a better understanding of the patient's general health, Wang said.