Digitising health data saves lives – VXPASS

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By Jamie McKane Published: December 14, 2021
Zachary Weiner and VXPass logo

Blockchain technology, and specifically the BSV blockchain, is unique in its potential to improve the efficiency of a wide range of industries, from fintech and supply chain management to big data and cybersecurity. It is just as relevant, however, to industries that have a direct impact on everyday human health and wellbeing.

A prime exemplar of the BSV blockchain’s ability to fundamentally improve everyday life is the effect of services created by companies like VXPASS. VXPASS is a digital vaccine card provider that uses the BSV blockchain to digitise health records, most pertinently the vaccination status of individuals against Covid-19 and other viruses.

The efficiency offered by the BSV blockchain in enabling this activity, and the fact that it offers people the ability to own their own healthcare records, has resulted in the company seeing great early success. In May 2021 VXPASS was selected to lead the Covid-19 vaccine monitoring and administration in Lesotho, and it was recently listed by San Francisco as an approved digital vaccine card provider.

By registering their vaccination status with VXPASS, people can prove and share their vaccination status whenever necessary while retaining their privacy and the ownership of their medical records stored on the service. Recording vaccination status securely on the BSV blockchain is just the beginning, however.

Healthcare data has been long overdue for a migration from analogue to digital data recording, and digital verification of health records is a phenomenon which would not only improve efficiency and data sovereignty, but also save lives.

This is the view of VXPASS Founder Zachary Weiner, who spoke in an interview with Bitcoin Association about his own experience with archaic health data management and the importance of digitising health records.

 

Proper care through verified data

To demonstrate the importance of digitised healthcare data, Weiner begins by sharing a personal anecdote that many can relate to – receiving medical care from a practitioner who has no insight into your history.

‘A few years ago, I was vacationing in Thailand and I was driving on a scooter and I wrecked it. I ended up getting road rash so deep that I had to go to the hospital, and there’s a lot of metal in the roads and concrete. The doctor didn’t speak English and they were trying to figure out if I needed a tetanus shot. And since we couldn’t communicate with each other, they just gave me the tetanus shot,’ he says.

‘The vaccination for tetanus probably isn’t that damaging if you get a second one five years from now or three years from now or whatever the case is, but you can imagine, had that been something that may affect your body a little more adversely, the result probably would have been the same – for that doctor to cover his own licence, not knowing what the state of my medical history was, he would have still have to give me the inoculation. If I were able to have allowed that doctor to swipe a QR code to get my relevant medical history, I would have gotten proper care instead of default care.’

In many cases like Weiner’s, ‘proper care’ instead of ‘default care’ could avoid potentially disastrous reactions on the part of the patient, who may be allergic or unresponsive to certain medication, or who may unknowingly take on the risk of receiving unnecessary treatment.

The same approach holds true when considering the widespread problem of incorrect or manipulated health records. This is especially apparent in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic, where countries and businesses are faced with the problem of enforcing vaccination policies and verifying vaccination status without a reliable record. Paper vaccine status cards can be easily faked, and many haphazardly constructed solutions to this new problem consist of a digital copy of these cards, making them effectively just as liable to manipulation or error.

Under the conditions of the pandemic, Weiner says, this lack of a verified health record could cost more lives the longer it continues.

‘We are struggling to get vaccinations out as fast as possible, we’re struggling to get verification out as fast as possible – not at VXPASS but just generally as a society. And as we use these systems that are easily faked or fooled, we run the risk of spreading new disease and variants.’

‘The faster that companies, organisations and governments can adopt a digitally verified or a blockchain-verified health record, the fewer people will die. And I don’t mean that as hyperbole.’

 

Personal privacy and medical data on the blockchain

One of the less baseless objections from people to vaccination status monitoring is a concern around the use and security of their medical data and the exposure and monetisation of this information linked with their personal identity. Current widespread vaccination tracking practices in developed countries are not realising this fear, however, and VXPASS’s blockchain-based solution goes one step further by disconnecting healthcare data from the patient’s identity.

While VXPASS writes healthcare data to the public BSV ledger, this information is never linked to the patient’s identity – only to a public key that they can independently assert ownership of at the point of verification. This provides the best of both worlds: patients can retain sovereignty over their medical data while benefitting from instant verification using a secure and immutably reliable platform.

‘Your medical record is already stored in a public database. It’s not like we are coming from a scenario where you have perfect ownership over your data and this is some egregious move towards publication,’ Weiner explains.

‘In this model, though, while we do publish things like the brand name, the NDC and the date that you got it – your name, your phone number and your email address are not associated with the record at all. There’s no query ability by individuals. We use the tools that the blockchain has given us to create a digital signature that can prove ownership rather than allowing look-up, so while your information may be on a public chain, it’s not associated to your identity in any way.’

Medical records on VXPASS are also signed by certified doctors and practitioners, who effectively stake their licence against the validity of your record. This not only allows future treatments to proceed confidently in the knowledge of your vaccination status or medical history, it also means that if an error is discovered, the cause can easily be traced thanks to the BSV blockchain’s immutable and public data ledger.

One of greatest beliefs of the team behind VXPASS is that people have a right to own their personal medical data and to control when and how that is exposed. This type of healthcare data management system is only easily accomplishable through blockchain technology, and VXPASS is confident in its ability to deliver more efficient and secure alternatives to traditional healthcare records while giving power back to the patients that rely on them.

To find out more about VXPASS and the company’s Covid-19 vaccine card service, visit the official website.