Date of Award

6-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)

Department

Department of Computer Science

First Advisor

Sean Smith

Abstract

Electronic health records (EHRs) have revolutionized the health information technology domain, as patient data can be easily stored and accessed within and among medical institutions. However, in working towards nationwide patient engagement and interoperability goals, recent literature adopts a very patient-centric model---patients own their universal, holistic medical records and control exactly who can access their health data. I contend that this approach is largely impractical for healthcare workflows, where many separate providers require access to health records for care delivery. My work investigates the potential of a blockchain network to balance patient control and provider accessibility with a two-fold approach. First, I conduct a survey investigation to identify patient concerns and determine the level of control patients would like over their health information. Second, I implement a blockchain network prototype to address the spectrum of patient control preferences and automate practical access policy. There are conflicting demands amongst patients and providers for EHR access---privacy versus flexibility. Yet, I find blockchain technology, when manipulated to model access states, automate an organizational role-based access scheme, and provide an immutable history of behavior in the network, to be a very plausible solution for balancing patient desires and provider needs. My approach is, to my knowledge, the first example of blockchain's use for less patient-centric, nudge theory-based EHR access control, an idea that could align access control interests as academics, the government, and the healthcare industry make strides towards interoperable, universal patient records.

Comments

Originally posted in the Dartmouth College Computer Science Technical Report Series, number TR2018-855.

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