By Pramod Mishra, Associate Director; and Kaushik Das, Director – PwC India
By Dipankar Chakrabarti, Executive Director; and Arijit Chakraborti, Partner – PwC India
By Surya Jitendra N, Solutions Architect – AWS

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses operate. Now more than ever, it is imperative for organizations to create a safe environment for their employees. This compels enterprises to ensure the return to office does not pose a risk to employees and society at large.

In this context, the personal health data of employees is critical for an organization and ensuring the safety and security of such data is a top priority.

The Health and Wellness Repository is a blockchain-based web application developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) India’s Blockchain Laboratory, in collaboration with PwC Japan. Its primary function is to securely store health-related information.

The application enables employees’ health status to be securely and efficiently shared with their organizations, allowing enterprises to monitor and manage physical visits. The solution helps organizations address the post-pandemic challenges of employees physically visiting workplaces.

PwC is an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner and Managed Service Provider (MSP). As one of the leading professional services networks in the world, PwC is a community of solvers combining human ingenuity, experience, and technology innovation to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes.

PwC’s purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. They believe that cloud is the driving force powering digital transformation across organizations. PwC helps organizations harness cloud more efficiently and effectively in all its forms—on-demand software applications, data and infrastructure services, smart development environments, and new innovations.

Organizations can accelerate their business outcomes with PwC’s suite of cloud-powered solutions, reduce complexities, and unleash the full potential of cloud through better adoption, cloud-first strategy, and cost optimization.

In this post, we explore the Health and Wellness Repository solution, the organizational challenges it helps address, and how PwC built this solution using AWS.

About PwC’s Blockchain Laboratory

PwC India’s Blockchain Laboratory aims to empower organizations to transform themselves, their clients, and society, setting the stage for future growth by leveraging the disruptive power of blockchain.

The lab has a successful history of creating thought leadership in collaboration with eminent industry bodies. It has also designed, developed, and deployed multiple cross-industry solutions for various clients. The team comprises blockchain certified professionals with diverse experience serving multiple sectors.

Solution Overview and Target Groups

The solution’s primary objective is to facilitate verification of health credentials of any personnel (employees, customers, and staff) within workplace premises, without requesting data from the individual. The tool has implemented a health scoring logic through real-time integrated data.

The logic is customizable as per organizational requirements. The solution is developed based on the concept of zero-knowledge proof, where the individual can prove the authenticity of the information without conveying any information or data to the verifier. It allows individuals to maintain control of their personal health data and share it in a secure, verifiable, trusted, and immutable manner.

The solution is helpful across a variety of sectors, including transportation, tourism and recreation, healthcare, and education.

Challenges

During the pandemic, virtual meetings affected the decision-making speed of many business leaders who are now eagerly looking forward to having in-person meetings on a regular basis. Other challenges organizations have faced during the pandemic include:

  • Prolonged remote operations have impacted the decision-making quality.
  • Collaboration levels have dropped drastically in many organizations and silos have formed at workplaces. The emotional aspect of communication is lacking, leading to a higher level of stress and disengagement.
  • Onboarding a new team in a virtual work environment is challenging, with new employees struggling to adapt to an organization’s culture and ethos.

With the pandemic ongoing, as employees return to the office, there is a threat of the virus spreading to individuals within the premises if adequate preventive measures are not taken.

In the absence of a trustworthy and transparent system, individuals sharing their private health data might be apprehensive about doing so since it can be misused by the organization collecting it and/or get exposed to malicious third-party entities. The organization also relies on the static health data of the individuals entering the premises.

Another recent noteworthy observation from the corporate arena is that health and wellness programs are increasingly becoming an integral part of employee engagement activities and are expected to continue to gain importance in the coming years.

Functionality and Uniqueness

The blockchain-based Health and Wellness Repository solution is integrated with wearable internet of things (IoT) enabled health gadgets to dynamically generate the user’s health scores. The user is granted permission to physically access areas in a workplace based on the scores generated from different parameters, like PCR test results, vaccination status, and overall health.

The system generates a QR code for the user—which can be scanned from within or outside the application—to provide a link to verify the user’s real-time health status. Users are provided with information on the areas they are allowed to visit, as well as the ones where access is forbidden.

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Figure 1 – User journey.

This model is based on the concept of zero-knowledge proof, where an external entity can verify the truth about a person’s health without knowing their identity.

Organizations can customize the rules to calculate these scores. The application also has a management dashboard to monitor the real-time health status of employees.

Compared to similar solutions, the Health and Wellness Repository provides information on an individual’s entire health status—not just data related to COVID-19. The solution also collects a user’s daily medical data so that their health profile remains up-to-date. These features help provide fast medical assistance in case of an emergency.

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Figure 2 – Process overview. 

Technical Overview and Architecture

The Health and Wellness Repository solution uses the following components:

  • Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (Amazon QLDB) is used to store health-related data in the form of hashes in a private blockchain. Amazon QLDB is a fully managed ledger database that provides an immutable, transparent, and cryptographically verifiable transaction log. It is a new database category that assists in eliminating the need to engage in the difficult development effort of building one’s own ledger-like applications.
  • The web application is hosted using AWS Amplify, a set of purpose-built tools and features that lets frontend web and mobile developers quickly and easily build full-stack applications on AWS.
  • The application programming interfaces (APIs) are hosted using Amazon API Gateway, which enables users in hosting their REST APIs at any scale.
  • The authorization server is hosted using Amazon Cognito, a service that provides APIs for user authorization/authentication.
  • The files are stored on the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket, an object storage service that provides industry-leading scalability, data availability, performance, and security. Clients of all sizes and industries can utilize it to store and protect data.
  • Parameter Store, a capability of AWS Systems Manager, is used for storage and management of keys.

Also, Ethereum blockchain smart contracts are deployed on the Ropsten network, which is outside the AWS cloud. It is an Ethereum test network that facilitates smart contract testing before deployment on the Ethereum Mainnet. It is a like-for-like representation of Ethereum.

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Figure 3 – AWS platform architecture.

Key Highlights

  • Compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Personal Data Protection (PDP) guidelines.
  • Open architecture which is easily integrated with any third-party solution.
  • Trusted verification from hybrid blockchain.
  • Amazon QLDB as an off-chain storage adds an additional layer of security.
  • Secure storage, sharing, and verification of private health data.
  • Data-driven health scoring algorithm with customizable rules for automated scores.
  • Flexible design to adapt to other use cases.

Use Cases

In addition to being a platform for easy and secure verification of health data, the solution has multiple other advantages, including the following:

  • Reopening of offices: Post-pandemic, bringing back employees while ensuring their safety is a priority for most organizations. Senior management in various prominent firms believe that prolonged periods of remote functioning would hamper leaderships’ turnaround time and effective decision-making.

The Health and Wellness Repository is a one-stop solution to address such concerns, as it ensures trusted verification from a hybrid blockchain and an effective data-driven health scoring algorithm.

  • Financial and cultural benefits: Continuous monitoring of employee health data promotes quick health-related action to avoid unforeseen consequences, reducing the extent of absenteeism in the firm. An employer’s proactive approach towards employee health demonstrates a positive work culture.
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  • Growing awareness of employee well-being: In the post-COVID era, more organizations are recognizing the importance of employee healthcare, offering wellness programs as an integral part of employee engagement activities. Such activities can help boost employee morale and also facilitate a health-focused ecosystem—acting as key differentiators for customer acquisition and retention initiatives.

Conclusion

The Health and Wellness Repository is designed with today’s businesses needs and end users in mind. It allows entities to set their own predefined criteria through a data-driven health scoring algorithm.

At the same time, the solution safeguards the private health data of users in a simple and secure manner, resulting in a win-win situation.

Blockchain, the underlying technology used to develop this solution, is one of the most trusted and secure technologies currently available and is expected to impact a range of industries and sectors in the coming years.

To learn more about PwC India’s Blockchain solutions and the Blockchain Lab, visit their website.

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