Blockchain technologies have the potential to radically reshape many industries
Blockchain technologies have the potential to radically reshape many industries, including healthcare. These technologies create a distributed database across a network of computers, using cryptographic methods to verify the consistency of digital records and transactions. This could enable the secure, tamper-proof, transparent, and trustworthy management of health-related data. But some doubt whether blockchain can deliver on its promise. Others fear that it will deliver too much, providing efficiency and security without sufficient operational sensitivity to healthcare contexts. The aim of this project is to map the legal, ethical, technical and governance challenges pertaining to the regulation of healthcare through blockchain.
For the purposes of this project, Blockchain will be understood as a form of ‘design-based’ regulation, entailing the hard-coding of regulatory norms into systems infrastructure and operation. This might entail, for example, creating a transparent and unalterable audit trail regarding data access and usage, or designing-in informational privacy through data encryption. Hard-wiring norms (e.g. traceability and privacy) into healthcare systems might overcome shortcomings of conventional legal and ethical regulation, but is likely to face major implementation challenges.
Hard-wiring norms into healthcare systems might overcome shortcomings of conventional legal and ethical regulation
What are the legal, ethical, technical and governance opportunities risks and challenges?
By identifying, mapping, and critically examining the implications for utilising Blockchain in healthcare, this project will identify their legal, ethical, technical, and governance opportunities, risks and challenges. In so doing, this project will begin to explore whether, and under what conditions, these technologies might be developed whilst remaining faithful to important ethical, legal and constitutional values.