Blockchain (a-image/

CDC tests blockchain for data transparency

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to incorporate blockchain into its electronic health record (EHR) data sharing system.

Few users trust data sharing systems because they cannot “see, as the data moves through its lifecycle, who has access to it at what point,” Askari Rizvi, chief of the technical services branch of CDC's of Health Care Statistics Division explained in an Aug. 8 webinar.  

In a pilot program with National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and IBM, CDC is using blockchain to secure data and metadata collected from EHRs with clients’ consent and to give the data lifecycle far more transparency. Because blockchain records every data transaction, data owners, health care providers, the CDC as well as end users and auditors can account for all data transactions and determine if there has been any malicious activity.

After data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey is submitted to NCHS, it is edited, sampled, tested for eligibility, formatted and finally validated. Normally the data would then be stored as a “public use file.” With blockchain, CDC will be able to see who has access to the data as it moves through the lifecycle.

The blockchain encryption and decryption processes are complex and will require tweaks following the trial; however, when perfected, data consensually abstracted from clients, EHRs and survey reports will undergo sampling, validation, editing and storage in a quicker, more transparent way.

About the Author

Caroline Mohan is an editorial intern for FCW and GCN. She can be reached at [email protected].


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