U.S. retail giant Walmart announced that it has been awarded patent for a system that will store customers’ vital health information on a healthcare blockchain that can be accessed through a wearable device. Walmart patent shows large corporations are seeing the value of medical technology and investing in health IT infrastructure technology.
In the system described in the patent for “Obtaining a Medical Record Stored on a Blockchain from a Wearable Device,” a device such as a bracelet will hold the private key; first responders would be able to access it using the wearer’s fingerprint, iris, or facial biometrics. In addition to information for the blockchain database, the wearable device includes the biometric scanner and an RFID scanner to match the private key on the device to the public key. Very recently, Anna Jarman, Associate at Walmart, was speaking at our WT | Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco.
The patent further explains the principles of the system’s operation:
“… receiving, by a processor of a computing system, an encrypted private key and a public key associated with the patient stored on a wearable device of the patient, in response to a scanning of the wearable device of the patient at a scene of an emergency, wherein the encrypted private key is decrypted by a biometric signature of the patient; obtaining, by the processor, the biometric signature of the patient by scanning a bodily feature of the patient; decrypting, by the processor, the encrypted private key using the biometric signature of the patient to determine a private key associated with the patient; and accessing, by the processor, the medical records of the patient, using a combination of the public key and the private key associated with the patient, to access a local storage medium of the wearable device.”
Additionally, the obtained medical information may be shared with hospitals and other healthcare entities, allowing the medical care personnel to be fully briefed on a patient’s vital medical records as well as medical information before the patient arrives at a particular facility. This will not only save time, but also potentially save lives. Walmart initially filed the patent application on December 14, 2016, and it was awarded last week on June 14, 2018.
“If medical records were stored on the blockchain, the private key of the patient would be needed to view/modify the records. In the case where a user is unconscious or incapacitated in an emergency, a first responder could not access the user’s medical records stored on the blockchain,” Walmart said in a statement. “Thus, there is a need for a method and system for obtaining a medical record stored on the blockchain when the owner of the private key cannot readily provide the private key.”