By Samantha McGrail

– IBM recently developed a blockchain-powered digital health passport platform to allow individuals to store and share their health status while protecting their privacy. 

IBM Digital Health Pass will combine various dynamic data sources, including test results and on-site temperature scans, to allow individuals to safely store their health information on their smartphones. 

“While we see great opportunity for organizations looking to verify health status, using these types of solutions for data-driven decision making, we know that privacy is central to adoption,” an IBM spokesperson said in the announcement. 

“Rightfully so; protecting health information is incredibly important, and we have designed our solution with privacy as the starting point.”

Specifically, IBM highlighted four focal areas to successfully pilot the solution, including to give organizations the freedom to design business rules behind the health status and determine their response to the health status and allow individuals to share their health status and control access to their data.

The digital health pass is designed so that organizations are able to create their own individual criteria to generate a health status that fits any specific situation. 

Because organizations will all be able to tailor their own criteria, an individual may receive different responses from different organizations regarding their personal health status.

IBM gave the example of an airline and a restaurant. An airline would most likely have a stricter system for establishing wellness than a restaurant that is sitting individuals at an outside table.

IBM Digital Health Pass also enables individuals to present their health information through their health pass instead of sharing personal or sensitive information, including lab results or medical history, to a large group of individuals. 

Individuals have control over who has access to their data, so each person must give consent to release their personal health data as part of their health status. 

Therefore, an individual could choose to share medical records, or they can choose to withhold access to these results. But what they choose may impact their personal final health status. 

Additionally, individuals can choose what organizations can see their health status.  

“Trust and transparency remain paramount when developing a platform like a digital health passport, or any solution that handles sensitive personal information,” IBM stated. “We have a steadfast commitment to data responsibility. Putting privacy first is an important priority for managing and analyzing data in response to these complex times.”

As governments across the country prepare to re-open communities, digital health passports are emerging as a technology solution that enables individuals to present their health status so they can return to a their “new normal.” 

At the beginning of the month, the World Economic Forum announced its support for a new digital health pass, CommonPass, which allow individuals to securely document their COVID-19 status electronically and present it when they board a plane or cross a border.

CommonPass generates a QR code that can be viewed on a smartphone so that officials or health personnel can scan the code and clear the individual for travel, all while keeping their health information private.

Additionally, the health pass will support PCR test results, vaccination records, and various health screening entry requirements that vary from country to country.

Currently, there are two trials underway between Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines. 

The trials will attempt to mimic the full traveler experience of taking a COVID-19 test before departing, uploading the results, and following entry requirements at their departure and destination airports, the press release stated.

Once the trials are complete, CommonPass will expand to additional airlines and routes across Asia, Africa, the US, Europe, and the Middle East.



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