Korean government funded research proposes IOTA based healthcare solution

  • Research conducted by Kyung Hee University and funded by the Korean government proposes a solution to combat counterfeiting in the healthcare supply chain with the help of IOTA.
  • The solution uses the Distributed Ledger of IOTA and Masked Authenticated Messaging (MAM).

Research results from Kyung Hee University in South Korea propose a track and trace solution to combat counterfeiting within the healthcare supply chain using IOTA. The research was funded by the Korean government and indicates that the production process of health care equipment goes through a number of stages that make it susceptible to environmental factors and counterfeiting.

The research outlines two main problems related to supply chain tracking and monitoring: first, how to distribute and decentralize the data, store and manage it so that stakeholders can access it. Second, how to trace each stage of the supply chain back to its origin.

Furthermore, the research shows that monitoring, controlling and managing the healthcare supply chain has become particularly important during the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to gaps in the supply chain, the conditions of the pandemic have allowed an increase in the production of counterfeit medical devices. Therefore, the proposed solution aims to “ensure reliability” to the health care supply chain.

How does the IOTA-based solution work?

The researchers used IOTA’s Distributed Ledger technology as a solution to solve the above challenges. In addition, the researchers used the Masked Authenticated Messaging (MAM) protocol to “facilitate confidentiality, data integrity and accessibility”. According to the research, this was done as follows:

Firstly, to facilitate medical materials supply chain tracking, we introduce a provenance-based solution. Secondly, we adopt a DAG -structured blockchain called IOTA for distributed data storage (…). Thirdly, we use the Masked Authentication Mess.

The model of the proposed IOTA-based solution uses “usual participants” in a supply chain. These include raw material suppliers, distributors, logistics, and others. To monitor the medical devices, the researchers used sensors that can be placed on them. The sensors provide all relevant data along the supply chain. The process of attaching data to the IOTA tangle works as follows:

To attach data to the Tangle, a data publisher (…) publishes the data (…) on its channel. We assume that sensors are attached to medical equipment or batch/package and are responsible for monitoring both location related and environment related information. Considering the fact that data (…) is vulnerable to attacks (…), therefore, we employ MAM protocol to enforce data confidentiality, data integrity, and restricted data accessibility.

To obtain data from the IOTA Tangle, the receiver of the information has to “subscribe” to the channel of the data publisher. Afterwards, the data will be decrypted using a secret key. The data can be retrieved, as clarified by the research, by any authorized entity that is monitoring the workflow of a particular unit or process. Below, you can see the illustrated process of adding and retrieving data from the Tangle in the model system of the proposed solution.


Source: http://networking.khu.ac.kr/layouts/net/publications/data/KCC2020/12-312.pdf

The researchers carried out simulations of the solution on a Raspberry Pi 3B as a hardware platform for Internet of Things (IoT). The simulation used a DHT-11 sensor with the Pi 3B Raspberry to record specific environmental conditions (temperature and humidity). In this respect, the research notes that IOTA “satisfies” limitations that other blockchains have, such as scalability. The researchers therefore conclude the following:

In the future, we are planning to extend our provenance based solution to solve the other challenging issues in the. supply chain, for instance, cross-border payments and energy-efficient strategies for resource-constrained IoT.

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