Chinese officials voice privacy concerns over blockchain hospital

Officials are not convinced that blockchain infrastructure is safe for a hospital setting

Image of Chinese hospital
The platform would allow the hospital to store patient and treatment information, as well as provide internet hospital services to patients

As China pushes forward in the construction of its first blockchain-powered hospital, some government officials have spoken up regarding their concerns on data security.

As reported in Sohu, a Chinese media outlet, Cn-Healthcare revealed that the First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University is expected to launch their pilot program by January 2021 while they work on blockchain integration. The hospital will be using blockchain technology to store patient and treatment information.

The operators explained that this platform, with the power of blockchain, will also allow patients to access a variety of online hospital services through a WeChat sub-application. The blockchain network plays a role in this feature by storing consultation and treatment data, which helps maximise the variety of contactless solutions that are available to patients.

This is an important feature, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten the health and safety of citizens.

The project sparked concern amongst officials of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology who informed hospital administrators that they are not yet convinced blockchain infrastructure is safe.

The Director of the First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, Niu Tie, assured the public that the hospital administration took the decision-making process very seriously.

“Our information department is facing a lot of pressure [from the government]. As a leading hospital in the region, any decision-making was very cautious (…) The requirements are also very strict in terms of privacy. The Ministry of Information decided to explore the application of blockchain from the perspective of data security, and also pointed out the direction of development for the technical staff,” Tie said.

China is known for using mass surveillance methods on its citizens, with some claiming that Tie’s comments are contradictory to some of the country’s policies.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and officials from the Dalian Hospital are still discussing the best ways to guarantee data privacy and security before the planned launch.

After President Xi Jinping endorsed the blockchain industry and highlighted it would be important in promoting tech innovation and transforming industries, a report entitled the 2020 Blockchain Industry Development revealed that companies around the country filed for over half of all global blockchain patents.

“We must take blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies, clarify the main directions, increase investment, focus on a number of key technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain and industrial innovation,” Jinping said.

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