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IBM Launches Enterprise IT Infrastructure Blockchain Solution

IBM Blockchain allows healthcare organizations to quickly build secure and scalable Blockchain networks.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- IBM announced the release of IBM Blockchain, an enterprise-ready blockchain service based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric version 1.0.

The new blockchain service is based on IMB LinuxONE, and will enable developers to build and host secure blockchain networks on the IBM Cloud.

IBM Blockchain aims to assist customers in building a secure blockchain network quickly and easily, which can often be a challenge as blockchain networks can be complicated to build and deploy securely.

The Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 will be available in the next several weeks and will provide the framework for building enterprise-level blockchain networks that can scale to meet demands as new members are added to the network. Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 will also allow organizations to complete more than 1,000 transactions per second.

"IBM has applied decades of experience running the world's largest transaction systems for banks, airlines, governments and retailers, to build the most secure blockchain services for the enterprise," IBM Blockchain General Manager Marie Wieck said in a statement. "IBM's blockchain services are built on IBM's High Security Business Network and designed for organizations that require blockchain networks that are trusted, open and ready for business."

Healthcare organizations are always looking for the most secure and efficient way to share sensitive information. While blockchain technology is inherently safe, it is only as secure at the IT infrastructure it is built on. Furthermore, organizations want a less complicated way to build and deploy a blockchain network without compromising infrastructure security.

IBM Blockchain allows organizations to build blockchain networks that protect against insider attacks, protect code throughout the blockchain application with secure service containers, and protect encrypted data with tamper-responsive hardware security modules.

IBM’s announcement also included its commercially available blockchain governance tools and open-source developer tools to help organizations automate certain steps when building the blockchain network. By automating these steps, organizations can build their blockchain networks much faster.

The governance tools allow developers to set up the blockchain network and control different levels of user visibility from the dashboard. The single view makes it simpler for IT administrators to set permissions for different users based on clearance level.

Blockchain is continuing to emerge in health IT infrastructure as a more secure way to share patient information within and without organizations.

According to a Deloitte report released late last year, blockchain may be able to place patients in the center of their personal health information. It is also changing the way healthcare organizations exchange electronic health record (EHR) data by allowing approved participants to join an exchange community rather than retrieving data from a centralized source.

“The current state of health care records is disjointed and stovepiped due to a lack of common architectures and standards that would allow the safe transfer of sensitive information among stakeholders in the system,” report authors stated.

Blockchain could potentially solve many of the interoperability issues healthcare organizations have faced since widespread EHR implementation.

It can be difficult for patient information to be shared with another organization if a patient needs to see a specialist, or transfers to another primary care organization, because healthcare records are most commonly tracked and stored in an organization’s singular database.

By using blockchain, healthcare organizations could have a standardized way to exchange data by having each individual patient be the center of his or her own EHR, rather than the organization’s database. Each patient would be part of a nationwide blockchain transaction layer.

Not only would the data be more secure because it is not kept in one centralized location where it can be compromised, the data available for analytic purposes will drive research incentives that will contribute to better patient care.


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