Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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China develops first blockchain-based Internet hospital

Premiere in the Middle Kingdom: Blockchain technology is being used for medical purposes for the first time. However, privacy advocates are sounding the alarm.

Blockchain technology has experienced a media hype in recent years, not least because of Bitcoin. But as much as technology is invoked by the legislators as the driving force behind the digital turnaround, the implementation of corresponding projects in European latitudes largely fell by the wayside.

Not so in the Far East: As resolutely as China is taking action against the domestic use of cryptocurrency, on the other hand, the country recognized the blockchain potential for the state apparatus early on and quickly set the course for adapting the technology to the economy . With the Blockchain Service Network (BSN), which networks large parts of Chinese industry with state authorities, the Middle Kingdom is working on the DLT-based infrastructure for the new Silk Road.

In addition to financial infrastructures, the energy sector, and administration in public authorities, the healthcare sector, in particular, appears to be predestined for the integration of special DLT applications. Because of their counterfeit resistance and interoperability, blockchain solutions could play an important role in the digitization of patient records and the exchange between hospitals.

You just have to assign her this role. With the university clinic of the First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian, one of the most renowned Chinese hospitals, the technology is taking the next step and is now also piloting in the healthcare industry.

Like the Chinese news platform Sohu writes, the technology is used to store patient data. According to director Niu Tie, the top priority is the “ verifiability of critical data as well as the secure storage, transmission, and secure access of data.”

In addition, users can access the services of the “Internet hospital ” via WeChat. Finally, a model that could quickly make the rounds in pandemic times is the messenger service ensuring contactless exchange between patients and doctors. The implementation in hospital operations should go into the test phase at the beginning of next year.

But data storage has its price and how high it is can currently only be guessed at. Critics complain that the establishment of the “Internet hospital“ could further undermine the privacy of citizens and serve the government as a data retention tool.

The same questions arise that always arise when the Chinese government has a hand in the game: What powers do other authorities have when accessing highly sensitive patient data, how and how long this data is stored and what possible effects does data storage have on medical care?

The director replies that the requirements for the First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian “as the leading hospital in the region” are very strict. As a prestige object, the establishment of blockchain technology in medical processes would ultimately be under special supervision.

However, the fact that the hospital is “under great pressure” does not rule out the government leaving some back doors open. A strict separation between the health administration and the state apparatus seems rather unlikely. The transfer and storage of data via the WeChat app also raises questions about data protection.

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