COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Standards and Interoperability Lab Asia (SIL-Asia), together with Hsu Lab, facilitated a pre-conference workshop on ‘Innovations in Digital Health: Blockchain and Web Technologies’ at the 6th AeHIN General Meeting and Conference on Interoperability for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) last 7 October 2018 at Cinnamon Grand Hotel.
I. Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources
The first part provided an overview of Health Level Seven International – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7-FHIR). This explained the basic difference between HL7 V2, CDA and FHIR messages. In addition, the presentation discussed the data model, resources, and message formats (JSON and XML) used by FHIR. With RESTful API methods (POST, GET, PUT, and DELETE), the audience learned how to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations in FHIR. With a mobile phone browser, which by default can perform GET (or READ) method, they were able to perform different GET methods against a prepared test FHIR server.
II. Blockchain in Healthcare
The next presentation focused on the basics of Blockchain and its potential use in the healthcare sector. It emphasized that ‘Blockchain’ does not always refer to cryptocurrency or bitcoin. The distinction between bitcoin and blockchain was discussed, where the former is merely an application of the latter. The presentation also introduced the participants to the basic concepts of Blockchain. This includes the decentralized model, the ledger, hash function, immutability, and smart contracts.
It also discussed some of the dichotomies in blockchain: (1) permissioned versus permissionless Blockchain; and (2) private and public Blockchain. The presentation also relayed both the benefits and risks involved in applying Blockchain. In line with this, the presentation shed some light on when to use Blockchain, and where it could fit in the healthcare sector. Finally, the workshop presented a theoretical blockchain-based Health Information Exchange (HIE) design.
III. Personal Health Record
The third part of the workshop presented Taiwan’s eHealth system. A demonstration followed on the initial implementation of a blockchain-based Personal Health Record (PHR). The initial PHR data is a copy of the patient’s health record that the patient can download from a government-kept health data bank. Patients may upload the record to a PHR system, where they can also add other health data. Patients can then share their data to health practitioners that they authorize. Thus, the PHR model is able to show the deployment of blockchain-based patient medical information.
Learn about SIL-Asia’s investment tools at www.sil-asia.org/tooling/
The Standards and Interoperability Lab – Asia is a regional health interoperability laboratory powered by the Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) and supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with sponsorship from The People’s Republic of China Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation Fund (PRC Fund).
The concept for the Standards and Interoperability Lab – Asia was first conceived at the Regional Interoperability Workshop organized by AeHIN in Manila last August 2015 at the sidelines of the Global Health Research Forum. The regional lab was designed to serve as a template of labs in each country that will later form into the Community of Interoperability Labs (COIL).