Blockchain technology to be used to monitor medical devices

University teams up with Spiritus for pilot project

Date posted

14 September 2017


A PILOT scheme will help ensure remote care carried out via connected medical devices is safe, secure and private.

The Data Lab has announced the launch of the project, aimed at demonstrating the benefits of a blockchain-enabled assurance layer for tracking devices through their lifecycle.

The initiative involving Edinburgh Napier computer experts, NHS National Services Scotland and industry collaborator Spiritus Development reflects the growing use of connected devices in acute care settings.

They will increasingly be used to help people manage such chronic conditions as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders in their daily lives through wearables and other mobile-enabled technologies.

Blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. With funding support from Data Lab, the pilot project is designed to demonstrate secure, automated means for tracking medical devices’ chain of custody.

It will also extract analytics geared to improving patient safety, clinical outcomes and operational efficiency in device use.

By combining a blockchain-enabled distributed registry and robust analytics, the project partners also seek to reduce action response times when recalls and field notices are issued by device manufacturers and regulators.

While it will not involve the direct use of patient data, the challenging project will lay the groundwork for ensuring such remote care is safe, private and secure.

Prof Bill Buchanan, who leads the cyber security work at Edinburgh Napier, said Scotland aimed to be a leader in transforming its health and social care infrastructure.

“With blockchain we have the opportunity to create a more trustworthy health and care infrastructure, and this can be used to improve both patient safety and cyber security.”

He added: “The collaboration with Spiritus brings extensive international experience of integrating data-driven systems within health care – systems which are secure, scalable and robust.”

Spiritus CEO Susan Ramonat said: “When we looked for places and academic partners with whom to collaborate on such ground-breaking research, Scotland and Edinburgh Napier University stood out. 

“Prof Buchanan’s cyber security expertise and deep commitment to transforming health and social care’s infrastructure are extraordinary and invaluable.  We believe that both organisations will bring the best to bear through this exciting project. 

“We’re also inspired by Scotland’s commitment to find new ways for delivering health and social care with patient safety and cyber security at the forefront.”

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