How Does Blockchain Help in Securing Electronic Health Records?

Mansha Kapoor
May 9, 2024


Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are digital collections of a patient's medical history, stored in electronic format by hospitals or clinicians. These records contain essential clinical data crucial to a patient's care, such as MRI reports, medical exams, immunizations, laboratory results, and allergies. EHRs are real-time and patient-specific, accessible to authorized users only. They can be shared across different healthcare organizations, facilitating research and study.

Compared to traditional paper records, EHRs offer numerous advantages. They eliminate vulnerabilities like natural disasters, theft, or unauthorized tampering. Automatic accessibility streamlines clinician workflows and supports various care activities. EHRs enhance accuracy and clarity, reducing errors in records. They enable easy access to health information, minimizing test repetition and treatment delays, empowering patients to make informed decisions.

Moreover, EHRs facilitate instant communication between doctors and patients, strengthening their relationship and improving care coordination. They empower patients and enable faster, better decisions by care providers. However, the advent of advanced technology has made EHRs more vulnerable to manipulation by malicious users.

In recent years, the cloud-based storage of EHRs has raised security concerns. Medical records are stored on the cloud and secured with passwords. But these passwords can be hacked and records accessed by hackers using sophisticated techniques. Therefore, EHRs, and patients' privacy needs to be protected from unauthorized access.

Blockchain technology is the answer to address the long-standing pain areas of traditional healthcare management processes. Blockchain can mitigate inefficiencies, insecurity, disorganization, and duplicate records afflicting traditional paper-based systems. This advanced technology can provide a decentralized and tamper-resistant platform. It could significantly enhance the security and interoperability of EHRs, thereby bolstering patient privacy and data integrity. All of the above is made possible by a distributed ledger protocol comprised of encrypted blocks of data organized in chains. 

EHRs are now indispensable to the healthcare industry. This indispensability is accompanied by an urgent need to overcome interoperability barriers and fortifying privacy protections. In this blog, we discuss the transformative role of blockchain in securing electronic health records. We explore its relevance in altering the course of healthcare delivery while safeguarding patient confidentiality and enhancing data accessibility. 

How Does Blockchain Upgrade Healthcare?

 Blockchain technology is based on cryptographic techniques and consensus mechanisms. Within healthcare, this technology is used to  share medical information securely. Data, once recorded on the blockchain becomes immutable, meaning that it cannot be altered or deleted without the consensus of the entire network. This tamper-proof nature of blockchain technology ensures the confidentiality and integrity of patient records, medical histories, and other sensitive information. 

Blockchain-based solutions for electronic health records (EHR) work on decentralization of data storage. It distributes the information across a network of computers or nodes. This distributed architecture eliminates single points of failure, significantly enhancing security by making unauthorized access virtually impossible.

Assurance of secured and transparent data sharing across a decentralized network makes healthcare patient-centric. It also promotes patient engagement and patient retention. These would count amongst the advantages of Blockchain technology that will significantly contribute to upgrading healthcare delivery systems.  

Key features of Blockchain Technology 

Blockchain technology offers several key features that distinguish it from traditional centralized systems. It seamlessly integrates with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) to encrypt and store users' health information securely. The process through which the data is encrypted safeguards users' privacy and ensures the integrity and immutability of their health data. 

1. Decentralization:

Decentralization is the mainstay of blockchain. This decentralized nature means that control over the information is managed through a consensus mechanism involving all the interconnected nodes. 

2. Data Transparency:

Blockchain ensures data transparency. Transparency is achieved through the distributed nature of data storage. Each transaction or record is securely stored across multiple nodes, making it resistant to tampering or unauthorized access. This shared ownership of data enhances transparency and shields it from third-party interference, thereby promoting trust among participants.

3. Data Security

Security and privacy are paramount in blockchain technology. Blockchain secures the network and its participants by using cryptographic techniques. Cryptographic functions ensure privacy by safeguarding sensitive information through encryption techniques, making blockchain an attractive option for applications requiring heightened privacy measures.

Lastly, the system is constructed using IPFS (InterPlanetary File System), a decentralized storage solution based on Hyperledger Fabric, a permissioned blockchain framework. This system securely stores health information with the data owner's explicit consent. A distinctive cryptographic technique employing public-key encryption encrypts the data stored on IPFS, thereby establishing a blockchain-based Electronic Health Record (EHR) system.

Benefits of Blockchain-Based EHR

Healthcare relies heavily on accurate and secure management of health data. However, storing this health data in databases poses risks of alteration and theft. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the importance of robust security measures particularly with the advent of decentralized clinical trials. 

Breaches in healthcare data security can have severe consequences, including the illegal trading of patient information online and threats to expose confidential data publicly.

The unauthorized use of patient data for secondary purposes without consent poses a significant threat to patient privacy. Patients should also have the opportunity to benefit financially from sharing their health information. Therefore, a solution that ensures secure storage of EHRs, along with an authorized retrieval mechanism and incentivized schemes controlled by patients, is imperative.

Blockchain-based digital EHR systems provide secure storage for patient records. Their smart contract-based framework facilitates secure sharing of records among authenticated users. Additionally, the transparent audit trail offered by blockchain technology presents opportunities for incentivizing patient data sharing.

While blockchain systems offer immutable storage, they can be costly. Blockchain-based systems are enhanced with off-chain storage solutions like the interplanetary file system (IPFS) for actual record storage to address this. This combination offers a cost-effective solution to EHR storage needs.

Imagine having access to your medical records from any device, anywhere in the world. With blockchain-based EHRs, this becomes a reality. Here are some advantages of using blockchain technology for EHRs:

1. Complete Control: You have full control over your records.

2. Security and Confidentiality: Your records are secure and confidential.

3. Accessibility: You can access your records from any device, anywhere.

4. Selective Sharing: You can choose who to share your records with.

5. Activity Tracking: You can monitor who accesses your records and when.

6. Tamper-Proof: The blockchain ensures your records remain safe and secure.

By leveraging blockchain technology, EHR systems offer an upgraded healthcare data management system that ensures privacy, security, and easy accessibility for patients.

How can Patients and Care-Providers Access EHRs?

Patients and healthcare providers can access blockchain-based Electronic Health Records (EHRs) through user-friendly interfaces. One standard method is through dedicated web portals. These portals serve as secure online platforms where patients can input and access their medical information, including their medical history, ongoing treatments, and prescribed medications. Patients can also directly communicate with their healthcare providers and view their appointment schedules through these portals.

Another convenient access point for blockchain-based EHRs is through specialized mobile applications. Patients can download these apps onto their smartphones or tablets, enabling them to conveniently check their medical data, review test results, and access other pertinent information related to their health. Additionally, these applications often facilitate seamless communication between patients and their healthcare providers, allowing for easy appointment management and real-time interaction.

Whether through web portals or mobile applications, blockchain-based EHR systems provide patients and healthcare providers with accessible and secure means to manage and exchange vital medical information, fostering enhanced collaboration and efficiency in healthcare delivery.


Conclusively, the current general status of electronic health records (EHRs) presents significant challenges regarding data security and accessibility. These challenges dog traditional schemes for storing EHRs. Therefore, they have proven vulnerable to breaches by hackers and unauthorized external parties, while also limiting access for patients and care providers. This imbalance between data security and accessibility underscores the pressing need for innovative solutions.

Blockchain technology offers a relief from the abovementioned challenges. Its inherent features of security, decentralization, and transparency, revolutionizes how EHRs are managed and secured. Through its immutable ledger system and decentralized architecture, blockchain ensures that patient data remains secure and inaccessible to unauthorized parties. Moreover, the transparency of blockchain transactions minimizes the risk of data manipulation, providing a robust safeguard for the integrity of EHRs.

All-in-all, blockchain technology transforms the healthcare scenario by establishing a secure and accessible platform for managing electronic health records. By embracing blockchain solutions, we can pave the way for enhanced patient care, improved performance measures in clinical practice, and greater contributions to clinical research in the future.

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