Applications of Blockchain Technology for Data-Sharing in Oncology: Results from a Systematic Literature Review

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Background: Timely sharing of electronic health records across providers, while ensuring data security and privacy, is essential for prompt care of cancer patients, as well as for the development of medical research and the enhancement of personalized medicine. Yet, it is not trivial to achieve efficient consent management, data exchange, and access-control policy enforcement, in particular, in decentralized settings, and given the gravity of the condition such as cancer. Using blockchain technology (BCT) has been recently advocated by research communities and gained momentum from the industry perspective. However, most of the proposed solutions are at the level of a prototype, and blockchain-based healthcare data management systems are not in place yet. Summary:This paper presents a systematic literature review, aiming to analyze the motivations, advantages, and limitations, as well as barriers and future challenges faced when applying the state-of-The-art distributed ledger technology in oncology. We then discuss its outcomes and propose the direction of the future research that can help to attain integration and adoption of the BCT for data-sharing, medical research, and the pharmaceutical supply chain in oncology, as well as in healthcare in general. Key Messages:BCT has the potential to enhance data-sharing (for primary care and medical research), as well as to attain optimization of the pharmaceutical supply chain by bringing properties such as transparency, traceability, and immutability to the applications. However, BCT itself cannot guarantee data privacy and security. Thus, it is never proposed as a stand-alone technology, but as a combined technology with cryptographic techniques. Regardless of the number of existing prototypes of blockchain-based healthcare systems, due to the existing barriers of the adoption (e.g., legal, social, and technological limitations), there is a lack of evaluation in real-world settings. Aiming to overcome these limitations, we propose future research directions that include design of the privacy-preserving hybrid data storage, interoperable infrastructures and architecture, and are compliant with the international laws and regulations.