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Rajasthan leads India’s first government Blockchain implementation

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Akhil AroraThe four years of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje-led Rajasthan government has witnessed a slew of digital initiatives. To further the pace on the digital path, the state has become the first in India to have a fully developed Blockchain fabric, and a live use case on Blockchain. Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary, Information Technology & Communication, Government of Rajasthan shares his views towards Blockchain implementation and the state’s success story

How has the state government used Blockchain technology for managing electronic health records?
The base fabric of Blockchain has been built in a manner that all different applications and services can be moved to Blockchain fabric with complete ease. The platform fully leverages Bhamashah – the state resident data hub for Rajasthan, ensuring that the system adheres and complies to JAM Trinity, integrates with the state identity and can map any benefit being given on the nodes of Blockchain platform itself. The electronic health records are mapped to the Bhamashah ID primarily, and it has been ensured that complete privacy guidelines are complied with. All electronic records, health summary, vitals, reports, prescriptions etc are mapped and are kept on Blockchain fabric, and can be accessed only after due consent of the patient. The system is fully secure, integrated and non-repudiated in nature ensuring genuineness of data.

What’s the rationale for using Blockchain and why not any other technology?
We first need to understand the ecosystem in which eHR or complete iHMS is envisaged to operate. In the state, we are allowing access to our e-platforms and solutions to even private sector through the ‘Rajasthan Stack’ for betterment of service delivery. Here also, the complete health platform would be leveraged by private healthcare ecosystem along with public healthcare, to provide services. In such a scenario, portability with due security is of utmost importance.

The biggest challenge that is being faced by healthcare systems throughout the world is how to share medical data with known and unknown stakeholders for various purposes while ensuring data integrity and protecting patient privacy. Although data standards are better than ever, each electronic health record (EHR) stores data using different workflows, so it is not obvious who recorded what, and when and hence creating a trusted environment for decision-making is a challenge for medical fraternity. The growing focus on care coordination and EHR access across the care continuum has raised questions about how to ensure that multiple providers can view, edit, and share patient data while still maintaining an authoritative and up-to-date record of diagnoses, medications, and services rendered.

With the introduction of Blockchain technology to the electronic health records (EHR), the system securely stores health records and maintains a single version of the truth. Different medical organizations and individuals like doctors, hospitals, labs, and insurers can request permission to access a patient’s record from the Blockchain. Patients have more control over who sees their data, while healthcare providers can provide better patient care based on more accurate data.

What are the benefits to the government and citizens with the implementation of Blockchain?
The appeal of Blockchain technology can no longer be denied. This decentralized network can offer a wealth of benefits to a range of users. In fact, it’s doing this already. It offers secure, private and immutable transactions by means of a consensus-driven system, resulting in the elimination of a middleman to facilitate transactions. In addition, Blockchain technology paves the way for the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-based systems. This opens a whole new avenue of high-volume data analytic solutions, which can be used in a wide range.

With an absolute clarity and consensus based sharing of data, with complete privacy of the individual and safety of data being prevalent at all times, Blockchain ensures solution to safety, security, transparency and non-repudiation of data to residents as well as the government – and therefore paves the way for a way more secure technological paradigm.

What is the progress of the EHR project, what’s the timeline of completion?
The Electronic Health Records on Blockchain platform is already live. It was inaugurated by the Chief Minister during the Rajasthan Digifest, Udaipur on December 3, 2017. In addition to Electronic Health Records, the state is also evaluating multiple other use cases on Blockchain, and shall come out with some new advanced implementations soon.

Has the state used open-source initiative or a proprietary product?
The Blockchain platform is built on 100 per cent open-source platforms, and has been built in-house at the Department of IT&C itself. The department has a strong team of Blockchain architects, analysts and developers, who take care of the overall implementation.

Any plans on synergising the Blockchain platform with other state governments or the Central government for various purposes, or maybe only during specific occasions?
The state has already built a base Blockchain fabric, and has already made live a use case. With the technology being on priority, we welcome all other states as well as stakeholders from Central government to discuss and partner with us over future endeavours on Blockchain technology.

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