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The term “blockchain” may be familiar to those of whom have their fingers on the pulse of the latest technology or cryptocurrency trends – think Bitcoin or Ethereum. However, blockchain technology is not reserved solely for cryptocurrency markets. The breakthrough technology also has applications in healthcare and medical imaging “where it has been used to securely store medical data using a distributed cryptographic database where information related to the creation, update or access to medical data can be stored in a safe way,” according to the European Society of Radiology. Empowering the users – which, in this case, includes physicians, radiologists, scientists, and, more importantly, the patients – to control how and by whom the healthcare data is used, could be the future of healthcare.

A recent article published in Insights into Imaging explores, in-depth, the potential applications of blockchain technology in medical imaging. The European Society of Radiology, Prof.Dr. Elmar Kotter, and Dr. Adrian Brady, among others, look at the basics of blockchain technologies before diving into a breakdown of the applications of blockchain into three key areas: Clinical applications, applications of blockchain in research, and using blockchain for administrative purposes.

This study shows that blockchain technologies can have a tremendous impact on the medical and radiological communities, with both patients and radiologists benefitting from their development and implementation.

Key points

  • Blockchain is a distributed database technology allowing to keep track of data, documenting the origin and changes of all data, including imaging data.
  • Blockchain uses cryptography for integrity and authenticity of data, transparency, immutability and verifiability of data.
  • Medical applications of blockchain technology are emerging, with potentially many applications in medical imaging.

Article: ESR white paper: blockchain and medical imaging

Authors: European Society of Radiology (ESR)

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