Why IOTA could change how patient health data is used?
The full article was originally published by David Hawig on Medium. Read the full article here.
At PACT Care, we have created the healthcare chatbot Florence, a virtual health assistant tool available at popular messaging platforms (e.g. Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack). Through this assistant, users can, for example, ask questions about a health topic, create reminders for their medication or track their weight stats. All these interactions create a significant amount of patient-generated health data (PGHD) that can be very useful to share with healthcare providers to jointly discuss their best care plan.
However, using current messaging platform presents two main limitations:
- PGHD is not private and can be seen and used by third parties
- PGHD is stored on third-party servers and it is not easily shareable with your healthcare providers
In one hand, take for example Facebook Messenger. Right now, probably a lot of people are aware of the fact that this solution is far from private or even HIPAA compliant (US standard for sensitive patient data protection). So, using a healthcare chatbot like Florence to share PHGD data with your doctor through a popular messaging service wasn’t an option for us.
On the other hand, a solution to share PGHD with your healthcare providers would be to create an application which works together with the EMR system of your local healthcare provider. Of course, such a “local” system can still generate a lot of value and we will further explore the options here. However, this system probably would be incompatible with the system of your next provider, pharmacy or your insurance. Furthermore, are the chances high that the specific provider also wants to own your data and doesn’t develop a tool like this for purely unselfish reasons.
So, how can we develop a system in which PGHD is private and fully owned by patients?
IOTA is a relatively new technology, which tackles the above two problems and has the potential to make you the owner of your healthcare data. With the help of IOTA, your healthcare data will be stored on a permissionless distributed ledger (you can learn more about it on the official IOTA website). In this case, no company actually stores your data on their server and for example cannot alter your entries or deny you access to your own data. On top of that transactions through this technology are even post-quantum secure and only you have access to your data. So, in a few years from now, it will still be secure, and nobody can decrypt it, like most of the other existing solutions.
To combine the advantages of IOTA with our healthcare chatbot Florence, we decided to develop our own open source chat app around this technology. Based on this we plan to overcome the above-mentioned problems of data privacy and ownership and release the full potential of our healthcare chatbot Florence.
You can find the source code of Chiota on Github, see: https://github.com/Noc2/Chiota
Since Chiota is completely open source everybody can help us to improve it or use it for his own purpose. And it also means everyone can check if the app is actually as secure as promised and that we won’t own your data. We welcome any kind of help or contribution! Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.