American giant Xerox filed a pair of patent applications in February 2016 to securely revise electronic documents by way of blockchain technology, according to new records released by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The concept, which is detailed in the documentation, outlines plans for a network of nodes which can share data via a blockchain. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.
And, according to the application, Xerox believes “regional hospital systems and multi-national corporations” could benefit from it.
“In one embodiment,” one of the applications reads, “the auditing system uses an encryption process, such as public key cryptography, to sign all record changes in an electronic document (with the private half of a key pair) and to verify that records have not been altered (with the public half of the key pair).
“This is important in ensuring the security of record changes before they are fixed in the blockchain. The security of the disclosed system and method may improve as the system becomes larger.”
Xerox on blockchain technology
The blockchain technology debate was featured heavily in a blog published by Xerox in July of this year. Ritesh Gandotra, Director, Global Document Outsourcing, Xerox India, elaborated on how adopting blockchain structure to EHRs will help manage authentication, confidentiality, accountability and data sharing while allowing medical researchers to access insights into medical treatment.
Ms Gandotra wrote how for the “longest time the healthcare sector has witnessed constrained development of fundamental design changes for Electronic Health Records (EHRs).”
Stepping into 2017, the sector is faced with the “critical need” for innovation that “not only personalises but also prompts patients to engage in the process of managing their medical data”.
She continued: “The current need of the industry is a solution that is not only innovative but also decentralised — a record management system that handles EHRs using blockchain technology.
“Historically, EHRs were never really designed to manage multi-institutional and lifetime medical records; in fact, patients tend to leave media data scattered across various medical institutes – as he/she moves from specialist to another or when visiting beyond your boundaries of your city.”
This transition, explained Ms Gandotra, often led to the loss of past data.
“The problem is further aggravated as record maintenance can prove quite challenging to initiate as patients are rarely encouraged and rarely enabled to review their full records.This leads to patients interacting with records that are fractured manner, reflecting how the records were managed.
“If health records of patients are managed by a service provider, the interoperability challenges between different providers and hospital systems pose additional barriers to effective data sharing. This lack of a well-coordinated data management system results in the fragmentation of health records.”
More about Xerox
Xerox Corporation is an American global corporation that sells document solutions and services, and document technology products in more than 160 countries.