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Indian Researchers Develop Blockchain-based Healthcare System

Image credit: DrRPNishank; Twitter

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (IIT-Madras) have developed ‘BlockTrack’, a blockchain-based secure medical data and information exchange system for a mobile phone-based application. The application, which is the first of its kind, is currently being field-tested at the institute’s hospital.

BlockTrack aims to securely digitise healthcare information systems while ensuring the protection of sensitive personal information and medical records. It does this by decentralising the control and ownership of patient data, through a blockchain-based innovation. The BlockTrack innovation is now protected through a provisional IP filed with the Indian Patent Office, according to a news report.

The Android version has been developed separately for patients and doctors. It opens up universal and transferable healthcare information management and emphasises data privacy and tracking the spread of infectious diseases across geographies.

The report added that it allows the interoperability of systems from multiple hospitals, institutes, and healthcare organisations. The patient can choose to visit any healthcare facility on BlockTrack’s blockchain network without any concerns about duplication of records or re-registrations.

BlockTrack is developed by a team led by Prabhu Rajagopal, the Lead Faculty for Remote Diagnostics at the Centre for Nondestructive Evaluation (CNDE), under the Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras. This is one of the first implementations of blockchain technology for securing healthcare data management systems. The approach is expected to make an impact in securely digitising and maintaining unique patient records across the country and eventually across the world.

K Vijay Raghavan, the government’s Principal Scientific Adviser, said that the objectives of the National Digital Health Mission launched last year was the secure processing of individual data and easy accessibility of digitalised personal and medical records by individuals and health service providers. The effective implementation of these objectives will require leveraging emerging technologies, and BlockTrack is a step in the right direction.

Recently, Raghavan launched the Mental Health and Normalcy Augmentation System (MANAS) mobile application to promote health and wellbeing in the country. MANAS was endorsed as a national programme by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).

As OpenGov Asia reported, MANAS is a comprehensive, scalable, and national digital wellbeing platform designed to augment the mental well-being of Indian citizens. The app integrates the health and wellness efforts of various government ministries. Also, scientifically validated indigenous tools with gamified interfaces were developed and researched by several national bodies and research institutions. Though the app is still to undergo field trials and is not available for public use as yet, it will be a platform catering to the overall wellness of people of all age groups and genders.

The application supports teleconsultation, especially for mental health-related problems. It is capable of health tracking and data records will be maintained, which will help users for future consultations.  According to the scientist that conceptualised and led the execution of the mission, MANAS intends to build a healthier, happier, and more self-reliant community. MANAS is based on augmenting life skills and core psychological processes and is universally accessible. It delivers age-appropriate methods and promotes positive attitudes that focus on wellness. The initial version of MANAS targets promoting positive mental health in citizens aged 15-35 years.

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