PhD defence of Ghassan Al-Sumaidaee – Blockchain Tokens as Universal Encrypted Access: A Comprehensive System for Healthcare Information Networks

Friday, March 15, 2024 10:00to12:00
McConnell Engineering Building Room 603, 3480 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 0E9, CA


The digitization of healthcare, driven by technological advancements and the digitization of medical records, presents both opportunities and challenges in secure and efficient medical data management. Key concerns revolve around data security, privacy, and accessibility, particularly in the centralized nature of existing systems. Blockchain technology has emerged as a promising solution, offering a decentralized and transparent framework for data exchange and management. However, the interoperability of multiple blockchain-based healthcare networks presents a new challenge, limiting their effective utilization in the healthcare sector. Inadequate data management across different blockchain systems can lead to duplications, inconsistencies, and inefficiencies, putting patient record privacy and security at risk. To tackle these challenges, this thesis proposes a novel approach by introducing blockchain tokens as a universal encrypted access system, facilitating the seamless transfer of patients' medical data across various blockchain-based healthcare networks. Assigning a unique token to each patient addresses the issues of data fragmentation and lack of interoperability that impede blockchain adoption in healthcare. To achieve universal access using tokens, our solution leverages distributed storage systems (DSS), employs steganography and integrates cryptographic techniques. DSS eliminates centralized storage of sensitive medical data, preventing a single point of failure. To protect against the public nature of DSS and the NFT metadata, steganography protects data unique identifiers and sensitive metadata, granting access only to authorized parties. Information is further secured with a strong password when embedded within an image, serving as an NFT image for simplified data retrieval during patient transitions. Cryptographic techniques secure password transfer during patient mobility across networks. Our model leverages the mutability of NFT data to introduce "updatable patient-specific NFTs" for accommodating dynamic medical data while using the immutability of NFT data to establish an ownership mechanism for patients that ensures privacy, uniqueness, and a trusted sharable protocol. This approach seamlessly integrates new patient records in real time on the public blockchain. To evaluate the feasibility, a scoping study is conducted using a medical test network to explore Hyperledger blockchain capabilities in healthcare records management (HRM). Building on insights gained, the scope expanded to two blockchain medical networks, engaging multiple institutions in implementing and testing the integration of medical records on IPFS within the private blockchain network via updatable NFTs on a public blockchain. Performance analysis confirms feasibility and effectiveness and validates practical application potential.

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