The rise of Blockchain technology is forcing participants across many industries to rethink the way they store and manage data.
Naturally, the first use case for blockchains was to introduce decentralized monetary systems for accurately recording and validating transactions based on a consensus mechanism like proof of work and proof of stake.
While the financial services industry has been the primary beneficiary of this revolutionary new technology, what has been less explored is the application of blockchains in other industries where data is not strictly tied to monetary value, yet immutability and transparency are just as important.
One such industry is Healthcare. The healthcare industry is considered to be one of the most highly regulated and centralized industries in our modern economy. Everything from patient data to drug manufacturing to data and insurance records are tightly controlled by a handful of entities with very little transparency for everyday consumers of health services.
In bringing blockchain technology to the healthcare industry, there are several roadblocks that require rethinking the current design of blockchain systems in order to fit the needs of healthcare stakeholders while still offering a more secure and transparent alternative to the current system.
What is Accumulate?
Accumulate is a blockchain protocol that is introducing a novel approach to how blockchains can be adopted by a broader set of enterprises from the traditional economy, including a variety of industries.
Accumulate’s delegated proof of stake blockchain leverages digital identifiers and creates interoperability between popular layer 1 and layer 2 blockchains like Ethereum, Solana, Polygon, and others.
In simple terms, Accumulate aims to transform the way blockchains manage data, tokens, and users by designing a common infrastructure that is based on digital identities tied to both digital and physical assets, as well as real-world assets, individuals, or entities.
What are Digital identifiers?
Digital identifiers refer to a system for assigning unique digital identities to assets, individuals, or entities on the blockchain. Traditional blockchains are organized based on randomly generated public and private key pairs which are used to store funds and record transactions on a distributed ledger.
The problem with the current key management system is that it lacks simplicity for the average user. The common approach of using the first and last characters of an address can leave users exposed to what is called the ‘man-in-the-middle attack’, which is a form of cyberattack where a bad actor could intercept or manipulate a transaction by injecting wrong information or changing the recipient’s address to their own. This is made easier due to the complex nature of randomly generated addresses.
Additionally, due to these addresses being randomly generated, public/private key management systems make it difficult to store ordered data sets or assign different levels of permissions to specific keys.
Accumulate Digital Identifiers (ADI) are human-readable addresses similar to website URLs that are chosen by individuals or assigned by organizations to represent their presence on the blockchain.
ADIs enable more flexibility and deployment of complex operations by issuing a hierarchy of keys with different permissions or levels of security.
This allows entities operating on the blockchain to more easily build standardized yet scalable protocols for other entities to interact with and exchange sensitive information with them based on their access permissions for specific data sets.
Using ADIs, Accumulate can serve as the de-facto communication and audit layer between blockchains, enabling the seamless transfer of tokens or other kinds of digital assets between ADIs across different chains regardless of their consensus mechanism.
How Accumulate can transform the Healthcare industry
There are 3 focus areas within healthcare that can be transformed by Accumulate’s novel identity solution:
- Drug R&D and Supply Chains
- Patient-controlled medical records
- Insurance claims
The common theme that connects these 3 areas is the need for stakeholders in the healthcare system (individuals and entities) to manage identities, tokens, keys, or other types of data with flexibility, security, cost-efficiency, and order.
Let’s go through each of these 3 focus areas to uncover how Accumulate makes their process of data ownership, authentication, and transfer much easier.
Drug R&D and Supply Chains
The process for manufacturing and transporting new drugs is often shrouded in opacity. Tracking the life cycle of a drug from concept to production to point of sale is a complex task that involves multiple intermediaries who record and store data in silos using different standards depending on their jurisdiction.
Whenever a problem is discovered with a drug product, such as an unknown side effect or mislabeling of the package, it takes a long time and a large number of resources for stakeholders to coordinate in order to investigate how many products are impacted and should be recalled.
The lack of transparent methods from tracking to tracing drug products across a supply chain makes it very difficult to create segmentation, leading to companies being forced to recall all of their products whenever an issue is discovered.
Similarly, regulators face challenges with conducting investigations due to the massive amounts of disparate data that has to be consolidated in order to analyze the life cycle of a drug and pinpoint areas where violations may have occurred.
While there are a variety of blockchains that can be adopted by stakeholders within the pharmaceutical industry to increase transparency or improve data sharing, lack of interoperability between different blockchains can ultimately lead to the same problems of siloed data that the pharmaceutical industry experiences today.
Accumulate can resolve these challenges by enabling seamless communication across disparate centralized databases and blockchains using ADIs for everything from individual drug products and digital documentations to transport authorities and retail stores.
This enables existing blockchain consortiums consisting of one group of drug development stakeholders to share information with other retailers, regulators, or consumers without incurring any significant costs.
Patient-Controlled Medical Records
Control over one’s medical records has only grown in importance as consumers become increasingly aware of how companies profit off of their data.
The sensitivity around medical records and extra efforts required to secure this data has made it more challenging for consumers to control and manage it themselves.
With Accumulate, it becomes easier for patients to store and manage their own medical records over time using special keys assigned to an ADI. Keys give patients the ability to sign off on allowing certain parties like hospitals or insurance companies to access their data.
As people move jobs or relocate, the hospitals or insurance companies they share medical data with may change over time. The Accumulate key management system allows patients to replace the entities assigned to prior keys with new entities, or to issue new keys and revoke access to old ones, all without needing to create a new ADI.
In addition, the owner of an ADI can create multiple accounts and sub-identities based on a hierarchy of keys which give sub-identity owners custom access to certain data. This application could allow a patient to map out a hierarchy of relevant stakeholders who need access to different types of medical data; from their primary care physician to their insurance provider, or for one-off cases where a user has to provide specific healthcare data to an immigration agency in order to visit a new country.
Insurance is fundamentally a data-driven service. Without a transparent and accurate collection of data, insurers are unable to develop accurate risk models and payers are unable to discern why their insurance rates cost as much as they do.
ADIs can make the process of managing and exchanging medical records and claims data between hospital networks much easier. Each hospital could have its own ADI and assign sub-identities to patients and further sub-identities to their medical records.
All hospitals and insurance providers on the Accumulate network would have access to a shared database, which removes the need to duplicate information about each patient since all of their data will be tied to the same sub-identity.
Patients could then be allowed to grant or revoke access to specific hospitals or insurance providers based on their needs at the time. All insurance claims would be easily traceable to the source, allowing insurance agents to view the patient’s medical history, a summary of their doctor visits, and any other vital information, all of which would be tamper-proof and secured on an immutable ledger.
ADIs offer 4 main benefits that could significantly improve the healthcare industry:
- ADIs can be bought or sold or managed by multiple parties like a multisig wallet.
- ADIs improve security on the blockchain by allowing ADI owners to create a hierarchy of keys with different levels of access permissions.
- Parties can adopt ADIs to send and receive tokens in place of randomly generated addresses which are not user friendly and vulnerable to the man-in-the-middle attack.
- Keys issued by ADI owners can be easily managed over time in a similar way to how a website owner can upgrade or downgrade security, modify content or change visibility to certain content without needing to build a new website.
These benefits combine to enable a more transparent, secure, and efficient system for managing data within the healthcare industry.