Our Initiative in Ukraine After 5 Months

How TransCrypts is Saving Lives By Giving Ukrainian Refugees Access To Their Vital Medical Records Via the Blockchain
Zain Zaidi
5 min to read

It has been nearly 6 months since Yulia and her two children fled Kyiv in the middle of the night to the backdrop of bomb sirens wailing in the background. With nothing more than a suitcase containing the essentials for her young family, Yulia made the 550 km journey to Chelm, a city in the Lublin province of southeastern Poland. Upon arriving in Poland, Yulia fell ill and was diagnosed with strep throat. She went to seek medical care and was immediately prescribed penicillin. However, soon after Yulia began to suffer a life-threatening allergy to the medication and was hospitalized for 4 days. Due to the inability to access Yulia's medical records the prescribing physician was unaware of her allergy to penicillin, a mistake that could have cost her life.

Yulia's story is hardly a unique one. Since the start of the war more than 5 million people have fled Ukraine. Due to the ongoing conflict many are unable to access their medical records leading to a decreased quality of care and an increased risk of preventable complications. To combat this TransCrypts, a Silicon Valley based document verification platform, launched a blockchain based medical records service to help make these records portable for fleeing Ukrainians. Ukrainians seeking treatment abroad are now able to share their verified medical history via a QR code and are able to translate it to the local language of the host country. Through the TransCrypts platform physicians are able to access a patient's complete medical documentation and are also able to view the healthcare provider responsible for creating the respective document. By linking everything on chain the validity of the documents are maintained and through AES encryption the documents are kept private and secure from unauthorized access. In the five months since deploying the pilot, TransCrypts has partnered with various grassroot organizations throughout Europe and has helped over 500 refugees port their medical records from Ukraine.

The power of on-chain medical records go beyond the current use case in Ukraine. Blockchain  medical records allow for individuals to have full access and control over their medical history. Right now medical records are owned and controlled by hospitals or other medical record providers and for a variety of financial and ethical reasons there is a huge problem with that. For example, in America it is not uncommon for hospitals to charge record transfer fees if an individual switches providers or receives care at a different facility. The concept of paying for access to one's own records is unethical and not having access to these records can prove to be fatal. A study by Harvard University and the University of Utah found that current EHR(electronic health records) fail to detect 33% of mistakes in a patient’s medical record. The issue with current EHR providers is due to the patients limited access to their own medical history they can’t fact check their own record. It is incumbent on health care providers to adopt better technology to help reduce the error rates on EHRs and through an EHR backed by a distributed ledger we can help save lives by allowing the patient themselves to serve as fact checkers to their own medical record. We believe the ability for the individual to view their medical records for any errors is a big reason why we saw a 37% increase in quality of care in an A/B analysis over patients with alternate records or no records.

Another major benefit we learned through our pilot in Ukraine was that the blockchain can replace the role of the human verifier with a distributed and decentralized mechanism for trust allowing for a full automation of the transfer of documents between a patient's medical network. In a hypothetical situation let us take Yulia and her penicillin allergy. With her TransCrypts based medical records she is able to share her complete medical history with any physician anywhere in the world on demand. It will show the physician who issued the document, when it was issued, and to whom it was issued. Every new treatment Yulia receives becomes a new block in her blockchain and helps create a synchronized timeline of her medical history, thereby mapping her medical history for better diagnosis and collaboration between health providers. The best thing about this is that Yulia can share her records with anyone and revoke access whenever she wants. Her data can even be easily migrated off the TransCrypts platform via us allowing her to mint her record as a NFT and moving it off platform via a wallet. This consumer ownership not only allows for easy facilitation between care providers and various third parties but also mitigates the downsides that centralized EHRs have of being easily compromised either physically or virtually.

Source: Lakshay Taneja

From what we have learned from our mission in Ukraine was that the reality is that in situations where centralized databases can be compromised it is essential for us to build versatile blockchain based networks that allow individuals continuous access to their important documents. We have hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who are having trouble accessing their medical records and this lack of access will affect quality of care.  We are taking the lessons learned from our work in Ukraine to not only expand our initiative in Ukraine but to take these lessons and apply it to critical data structures in other use cases, in other parts of the world. The power of blockchain is in redundancy and decentralization and with that we can help those in situations where it is necessary to have these technological parameters. 

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