Why Walmart filed a patent for blockchain, wearables and EHR data

Why Walmart filed a patent for blockchain, wearables and EHR data

Walmart’s ongoing investigation of blockchain applied sciences appears to have intersected with its rising curiosity in becoming a member of the healthcare area, in keeping with a patent software launched earlier this week by the US Patent and Trademark Workplace.

In accordance with the doc, which was filed in December, the retail big is searching for to guard a technique that permits a affected person’s EHR to be obtained from a blockchain database even when they’re unable to speak. Doing so would require verification from two totally different keys: a public key saved in a wearable that might be scanned by emergency responders by way of RFID, and a non-public key that’s obtained by scanning a biometric signature from the affected person.

The enchantment of storing a affected person’s EHR on blockchain is the relative problem of an unintended occasion accessing or modifying their information, the corporate wrote in its software. Each a private and non-private key are required to earlier than the system will permit entry to the affected person’s document, with the non-public key being particular to every particular person person.

“If medical data have been saved on the blockchain, the non-public key of the affected person could be wanted to view/modify the data. Within the case the place a person is unconscious or incapacitated in an emergency, a primary responder couldn’t entry the person’s medical data saved on the blockchain,” the corporate wrote. “Thus, there’s a want for a technique and system for acquiring a medical document saved on the blockchain when the proprietor of the non-public key can not readily present the non-public key.”

The appliance envisions numerous potential type components for the wearable machine, similar to a bracelet, a hoop, or a necklace. This wearable may retailer the general public key and the encrypted non-public key inside a reminiscence drive or, alternatively, home a model of the EHR that might be unlocked with each keys if a cloud-based storage answer is much less fascinating.

Accompanying this might be an RFID scanner, which scans the wearable to acquire the general public key, and a separate biometric scanner machine that might confirm a bodily characteristic of the affected person (at the least a fingerprint, an iris, a retina, and a facial characteristic, for example) to grant entry to the non-public key. Taken collectively, the strategy would permit a care workforce or first responders to shortly entry a affected person’s full medical document, whereas conserving the document itself inaccessible to others within the meantime.

Walmart’s curiosity in healthcare has develop into extra obvious with every passing month. Whereas final month noticed a deal between the retailer and Sharecare, information broke in early April that the corporate was in talks to accumulate PillPack, a New England-based digital pharmacy, and expressed an curiosity in shopping for Humana.

Its forays into blockchain appear to be multiplying as properly. After starting checks with IBM’s platform in 2016, Bloomberg reported in late April that the corporate was ready to implement the expertise in its reside meals enterprise. Additional, the EHR patent doc was accompanied by two different non-healthcare blockchain purposes: a technique for managing demand inside grid, and one other concerning entry to actual or digital areas.

Twitter: @dave_muoioEmail the author: dave.muoio@himssmedia.com

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