Every year INTEROpen runs a series of hackathon events supported by the UK’s NHS, bringing together innovators and experts from across healthcare and technology to accelerate the development of open standards for interoperability in the health and social care sector.
In March 2021, we joined the INTEROPen hackathon to help unravel some of the knottiest problems in medications interoperability, exploring how technology can improve use of medications safely as well as how the decentralized web can help staff and patients to safely and securely share medications data.
Now, as the interoperability and vaccine passports become an increasingly hot topic, Justin Bingham, CTO of Janeiro Digital, reflects on the experience.
The digital wallet
Physical records are fast becoming obsolete in our increasingly digital world, and it makes sense that our personal documentation – passports, health records etc. – will also go digital in the future.
During the March event, we were able to demonstrate how it is possible to take a decentralized identity – a digital wallet – and translate the credentials stored in this wallet into permissions that allow systems to interface with the data in and individuals’ Personal Online Data Store (PODS).
Specificity is key
These credentials stored in a person’s digital wallet are highly specific – like a record of recent vaccinations or even guardianship. It’s this specificity that acts as a sort of security blanket for data access.
In the guardianship example, because a person’s digital credentials are so precise, if someone is flagged as the legal guardian of an individual, they can access the data in that individual’s POD. In a sense, these credentials act as ‘clearance’ for PODS, and the two integrate seamlessly to form a unified system. It’s the seamless nature of the integration that we believe makes this model of storing and accessing data so powerful, and it’s what we believe makes it so successful.
The use of digital wallets and the contained credentials is gaining a lot of momentum, especially in the current climate of vaccine passports and immunisation certificates. They’re a quick way to easily verify a person’s credentials, in order to either confirm or deny their access to restricted data.
It’s enormously promising to see that we can integrate verifiable digital credentials into clinical data, stored in individuals’ PODS. For example, it’s possible to verify that data stored on a POD is from clinical records that have come direct from the NHS, and that this has not been tampered with. Without this assurance, this kind of data wouldn’t be of any real use, however with user confidence in its authenticity, it can have a real impact.
How XFORM fits in
XFORM is a software platform that allows countries, companies, and institutions to harness the possibilities of the decentralized web. We built it to allow individuals to regain control of their own data. It acts like a digital bridge that allows PODS to be easily integrated within organisations that require data to have no adaptation from any centralized structures or systems.
During the hackathon we were able to show that, using XFORM, medical systems can send data to PODS via a FHIR API. This data can then be stored in the relevant PODS along with proof that the data has come direct from the NHS, and has not been tampered with. XFORM also allows us to trace the data back to the original medical systems through the FHIR API, providing an extra layer of security and peace of mind.
Definitively showing PODS and XFORM at work in real life is what matters, and it’s something that we’re proud to be doing.
We truly believe that the decentralized web is the future of data sharing, and that it can have a tangible, positive impact in industries such as medicine. What we were able to demonstrate at the hackathon, with XFORM and PODS, is ground-breaking stuff, and it could be the future of clinical record keeping. We’re hoping to show that this concept goes beyond just medications data, and that it can be used for all areas of clinical care. Watch this space.
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