Tech 19 June 2018

Erik Gibbs

Wal-Mart receives patent for system covering health records stored on the blockchain

Already the king of consumer purchases, global retail giant Wal-Mart wants to be the king of the blockchain patents. It already has a number of blockchain-based patents to its name and just a few days ago, the company was awarded a patent for an electrical grid that runs on cryptocurrency. Now, it has been awarded another patent, this time for a system that can store and make accessible vital health information.

The patent, “Obtaining a Medical Record Stored on a Blockchain from a Wearable Device,” outlines a system through which a device such as a bracelet is worn by an individual. That device contains the key to unlock the wearer’s medical records that are stored on the blockchain.

The system has three components comprising the device, as well as the blockchain storage. The components include the device itself, which contains information for the blockchain database, a biometric scanner used to retrieve the individual’s biometric signature and a Radio-Frequency ID (RFID) scanner that scans the device to match a private encryption key to the public key.

To access the data, first responders will use the patient’s biometrics, such as a fingerprint, retina or face, to decrypt the encrypted key. After decryption, the individual’s medical records would be made accessible from the blockchain device. Those records will help ensure a proper and timely medical response, and can be subsequently shared with hospitals, emergency rooms and other healthcare providers as necessary.

Wal-Mart explains in the patent, which was awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on July 14, that the system will provide medical personnel with up-to-date and immediate information regarding a patient’s health status. The result is the ability to almost immediately apply the requisite treatment according to the individual’s medical history, thus potentially being a life-saving solution.

Wal-Mart was also recently awarded several other patents based on blockchain technology. Last May 17, company was awarded a patent for a digital marketplace that is built around a distributed ledger. Less than a month later, on June 14, the company was awarded another patent for a system that allows access to locked doors using cryptographic keys stored on the blockchain. In two related but separate filings, the company was awarded patents for a vendor payment system and a courier shipping system based on the blockchain this past April.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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