Blockchain for Health IoT Research - overview
Health IoT applications involve collection of sensitive data, including protected health information (PHI), from human subjects. Due to the presence of quasi-identifiers, de-identification of data may fail to limit re-identification risk. Moreover, the collection and management of consent information from subjects involves manual intervention, thereby increasing potential risk of error and data breach. Once an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or other type of ethics board approves a research study, it can be challenging to enforce regulatory guidelines and monitor compliance with the human subject research protocol. Mobile health (mHealth) and IoT studies often lack a trusted system for automated audit trail, that can enhance the provenance, integrity, and quality of data collected for research. Finally, such systems may not offer subject-level permission control for secondary data sharing with third-party researchers. These necessitate a secure and trusted framework for collecting, managing, and sharing sensitive health data in health IoT applications.
To mitigate the above-mentioned challenges, we have developed novel data management frameworks based on blockchain technology. Continuing to build upon our ongoing effort, we have demonstrated how to securely store sensitive data on the ledger, leverage smart contracts to restrict unauthorized data access and enforce regulatory guidelines, use the immutable transaction logs to maintain data provenance and audit trail. We have built a dynamic consent management system and incorporated it into a mobile health application that uses wearable devices to detect challenging behavior in children with autism (Figure 1). Such a framework protects privacy of subjects, in addition to maintaining provenance of data and improving the integrity and quality of the study. Our current research also focuses on offering various components of the health IoT blockchain framework as microservices.
System design of a blockchain-based framework for secure collection, management, and analysis of health IoT data.
 Olivia Choudhury, Hillol Sarker, Nolan Rudolph, Morgan Foreman, Nicholas Fay, Murtaza Dhuliawala, Issa Sylla, Noor Fairoza, and Amar K Das. Enforcing human subject regulations using blockchain and smart contracts. Blockchain in Healthcare Today, 2018.