The Department of Health is looking at new ways to allow scientists to collaborate on public health research, using blockchain encryption.

Canberra-based software vendor Agile Digital is working with Canberra-based cloud services wholesaler Vault Systems and the Australian Government, using Agile Digital's blockchain technology on Vault Systems' protected ASD-certified cloud.

The plan is to let data scientists analyse data from patients in a cloud-based environment ensuring the patient's privacy.

Agile Digital has delivered a proof of concept (PoC) to the Department of Health using blockchain to record who accesses what data, any questions researchers ask, and what answers they receive.

The Department of Health says it wants to unlock public value through research that gives researchers access to patient health records, but it relies on having a safe and confidential system.

Agile says its PoC proves that scientists can obtain research data back without seeing the data themselves.

The companies say it is the first blockchain implementation in the federal government.

“Data security is an important right that all Australians deserve, especially when it comes to their own medical records,” Vault founder and CEO Rupert Taylor-Price said.

“The future medical breakthroughs could very well hang on finding a way to balance citizen’s medical data for science while still guaranteeing security is a priority.

“By capitalising on blockchain technology and ASD certified protected cloud, the Australian Government will possess the capabilities to analyse sensitive data for breakthrough research, while still complying with the Australian Government’s privacy and security standards.”