The Russian Ministry of Health has announced it is working on plans to trial blockchain technology across several key functions, as details of a partnership with one of the Russian state-owned banks emerged this week.
According to statements from Vnesheconombank, a development bank tasked with fostering growth in Russia, the partnership will look at possible applications of the blockchain, including the storage and transfer of patient records.
Backing these proposals, VEB suggested it had a direct mandate from the Russian government to pursue these kinds of use cases for the technology, as part of a drive to create more inter-agency sharing across government bodies.
The move comes at a time when the bank is already separately exploring other use cases for the technology, including mechanisms for remitting charity payments and donations.
Spokesperson for VEB, Sergey Gorkov, said the move, to be pioneered by the new Centre of Competencies, would focus on developing private blockchain protocols which could be applied to a number of use-case scenarios.
“The Centre will engage in the development of private blockchain using the concerted efforts of the VEB team and an international professional team capable of accomplishing the tasks set by the Ministry of Health. In its turn, the Ministry is to define areas of blockchain application. To ensure greater consistency of work, we invite the Ministry of Health to join the blockchain working group.”
“When we started to think about how to manage projects efficiently, we realized that there is no platform…We realized that the blockchain is a good fundamental and qualitative platform for the future.”
The news will be welcomed by proponents of blockchain technology, particularly in light of the Russian government’s initial reluctance to support blockchain development.
The central attitude to the technology appears to have softened over the last year, with high profile figures including Prime Minister Medvedev publicly speaking to the virtues of the technology.
It comes in tandem with a number of other projects in the health space, where patient record transfer and storage in particular has become something of a focal point for developers.
With potentially multiple applications in the healthcare sector, and across industry beyond, the trial could enable the Ministry of Health to benefit from better performance across both internal and external record systems.